A casino is a place where people can play games of chance for money. Although casinos offer a variety of entertainment, such as stage shows and dramatic scenery, their primary source of revenue is gambling. Casinos have a built in statistical advantage, usually less than two percent, and this edge allows them to pay out winning bets and make profits. Some casinos use this money to finance elaborate buildings, fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. The name “casino” derives from the Italian word for small house, and casinos often have an intimate atmosphere. Historically, the word also referred to places where social gatherings took place.
Casinos have been a feature of Las Vegas for decades, but they are now found worldwide. Many states have legalized casinos, and they are also popular on American Indian reservations. The casino industry has a history of mob involvement, but the advent of large real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets meant that mobsters lost control of many casinos. A few major companies, such as Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel company, now own many casinos.
Although gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the casino as a central place for various forms of betting did not develop until the 16th century. During this time, European aristocrats enjoyed parties in private houses known as ridotti where they could play a variety of games of chance. Some casinos were even built on ships.