What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming hall, is an establishment for playing games of chance. Modern casinos often offer a wide variety of entertainment options in addition to their gambling activities, including restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and other amenities for visitors. Many casinos are themed and can be found in exotic locations around the world.

While musical shows, lighted fountains and luxurious hotels help draw in the crowds, casinos wouldn’t exist without the games of chance that generate billions in profits every year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games of chance make up the vast majority of a casino’s revenue.

Until the 1950s, most American casinos were run by organized crime syndicates. Mob money provided the bankroll that allowed Reno and Las Vegas to grow into gambling meccas, but gangsters weren’t content with simply providing the cash. They became fully involved in the casinos, taking sole or partial ownership of some and exerting control over others. Legitimate businessmen with deep pockets soon began buying out the mob and running their own casinos, free of mob interference.

Today, some of the most impressive megacasinos in the world are found in places like Macau and Singapore. These giants have enough room for hundreds of table games and thousands of slot machines and can accommodate guests in elegant poker rooms and lavish hotel suites. But even if you don’t gamble, these casinos have plenty to keep you entertained, with non-gambling activities and high-end restaurants that appeal to the whole family.