A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide range of games of chance. It is typically a building that houses several gaming tables and slot machines, often in close proximity to dining and beverage facilities as well as performance venues for live entertainment such as pop, rock, and jazz.

The first casinos were primarily in Europe, and they evolved from gambling crazes that swept the 16th century. Italian aristocrats, often called ridotti, used private clubs to host their own parties and gamble in secret.

In the United States, there are more than 1,000 casinos. Many of them are located in Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Despite their tawdry image, the majority of casinos are legitimate businesses and do not rely on organized crime for financing or influence over gambling outcomes. Federal crackdowns and a strong possibility of losing a casino’s license at even the slightest hint of Mafia involvement means that mobsters are kept out of the business.

Games & Payouts

There are two major types of gambling at casinos: card games and slot machines. Card games include blackjack, baccarat and roulette. In American casinos, the house advantage for roulette is less than 1 percent, and the house edge for craps is generally around 1.4 percent.

Other popular games include video poker and keno. There are also a number of live poker events and games.

Among the most popular casino games are slot machines, which have a much larger proportion of casino income than any other game [Source: PBS]. The slot machine has no player skill or strategy to affect the outcome; the payouts are determined randomly by computer chips inside the slot machine.