What Is a Casino?


When most people hear the word casino, they think of Las Vegas and a huge resort pulsing with neon lights, excitement, and games. But the term casino actually refers to a building or room that is used for social amusements, specifically gambling.

In the nineteenth century, Europe’s most famous casino was the Monte-Carlo in Monaco, which was open in 1863 and has long been a source of revenue for that small principality. Casinos in America began to appear around the same time, mainly on American Indian reservations that are not subject to state antigambling laws.

A typical American casino is a large room filled with slot machines, card tables, and other gambling equipment. Some casinos also include restaurants and bars. Generally, the atmosphere is loud and partylike, with the sounds of cheering or clapping (depending on the game) and the clang of coins dropping from slot machines. Many casinos hire expert gaming mathematicians to create and improve the mathematical models that govern the odds of winning or losing in each game.

According to a study by Gemini Research in March 2002, when respondents who acknowledged participating in casino gambling were asked which type of games they liked best, more than half selected slot machines. The next most popular choice was blackjack. Other games, such as poker, craps, and keno, received significantly less attention. Interestingly, the study found that those who participated in casino gambling most often were older adults, with households earning above average incomes.