What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is a place where patrons can gamble by playing games of chance (some with an element of skill). In the United States casinos are licensed and regulated, and most have strict rules regarding age and identity. Some casinos are owned by Indian tribes and operate on reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. Others are built in exotic locations, such as Venice, Monaco, or Singapore. The largest land-based casino in the world is Winstar World Casino in Oklahoma, which occupies more than 630,000 square feet.

A number of different gambling games are played in casinos, including craps, roulette, blackjack, and video poker. Most games give the house a mathematical advantage over players, which is called the house edge and can be calculated with considerable precision. To counteract this, many casinos offer extravagant inducements to high bettors, such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury rooms, and transportation.

The word casino derives from the Italian casino, a diminutive form of casa, meaning “house.” The oldest known casino is in Venice, Italy, a luxurious structure set on the Grand Canals that was used as a theater during performance intermissions. Other famous casinos include Monte Carlo in Monaco, which opened in 1863, and the newer Hotel Lisboa in Macau. The latter is designed to look like a birdcage and includes an enormous LED dome. Casinos can also be found in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other cities in the United States.