A casino is a place where people can gamble and other types of entertainment are offered. Casinos can be built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. In the United States, there are several areas with substantial concentrations of casinos. The largest is in Las Vegas, followed by Atlantic City and Chicago. There are also numerous casinos in Native American territory.

The precise origin of gambling is unclear, but it seems to have been present in virtually all societies throughout history. There are primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice in the most ancient archaeological sites, and gambling was an important part of Renaissance Italy, where aristocrats played games like astragali and giochi di noroc in private places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz].

While casinos may add luxury features to attract customers, their basic business is a house of chance. Most casino games offer a mathematical advantage to the house, and it is rare for a casino to lose money. This is why large bettors are often lavishly rewarded with free spectacular entertainment, hotel rooms and transportation.

Although organized crime groups provided the initial cash for some early Las Vegas and Reno casinos, legitimate businessmen soon realized the potential for profits. Real estate investors and hotel chains soon bought out the mob, and government crackdowns on extortion and drug dealing made it safe for legal businesses to operate casinos. However, compulsive gamblers are a drain on the gaming industry and can cause serious problems for their communities, even if they don’t win.