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What is a Casino?

A casino (sometimes called a gaming house or a gambling house) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. These include traditional table games such as poker, blackjack, and roulette; electronic games such as video slots and video poker; and card games such as baccarat. A casino may also offer sports betting and lottery-type games. Most casinos are built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions.

The history of gambling is long and varied. It started around 2300 BC with the appearance of wooden blocks used for chance games in China, and evolved throughout the centuries to incorporate dice, playing cards, and more sophisticated games like baccarat. Modern casinos offer an array of options for gamblers, from the classic tables to the newer automated and enclosed machines.

Casinos are highly profitable businesses. Every game has a mathematical advantage for the house, or “house edge,” which is a negligible amount in individual hands but adds up to enormous amounts over time. Because of this, it is rare for a casino to lose money, even for one day. Casinos make their money by accepting bets from patrons and offering free entertainment, food, drinks, hotel rooms, and other inducements to big spenders.

In the United States, the term casino usually refers to a full-service gambling facility that features multiple types of games and amenities such as restaurants, hotels, and live entertainment. Many US casinos are located in resort destinations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, while others are located in cities known for their luxury and sophistication, such as Monte Carlo, Monaco. In the second half of the 20th century, several European countries legalized casino gambling, resulting in a proliferation of international casinos.