A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of gambling activities. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships. Some casinos also offer live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, concerts and sports events. The term casino may also refer to a specific room in a hotel or to an entire building used for gambling.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as a place where a variety of ways to gamble are offered under one roof did not develop until the 16th century in Italy, when it became popular for Italian aristocrats to hold private parties at places called ridotti. The name stuck as the concept spread throughout Europe, and eventually to America, where the first legal casino opened in Reno, Nevada, in 1949.
Casinos earn their income by charging a percentage of the money bet, or “vig,” to players. This advantage can be very small, less than two percent of the total amount wagered, but it adds up over time. In games where players play against each other, the house also takes a commission on winning bets, called the rake.
Casinos have expanded rapidly since the 1980s, when several American states amended their antigambling laws to allow them. They have become a major tourist attraction, especially in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They are also found on Native American reservations, which are exempt from state prohibitions.