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What is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment, usually featuring slot machines, poker tables, craps, roulette, keno and baccarat, that accepts wagers from players with varying degrees of skill and luck. While other attractions like musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and luxurious hotels help draw gamblers, it’s the games of chance that keep them coming back and provide billions in profits for casinos each year.

Unlike online gambling and lotteries, where players can hide behind a screen, casino games are social in nature. Patrons interact with other people at the table or around the game’s ring, and they shout encouragement. Drinks are readily available and often delivered directly to players by waiters circulating throughout the casino. Nonalcoholic drinks and snacks are also frequently offered. The entire casino environment is designed to stimulate and excite.

In the past, casinos used low-cost perks to maximize their volume of gambling visitors. For example, during the 1970s many Las Vegas casinos were famous for offering discounted travel packages and cheap buffets to attract as many potential gamblers as possible.

Now, however, casinos are more choosy about who they entice to gamble and spend money. They focus on high-stakes gamblers who are expected to make large bets that will generate the most profit per patron. These “high rollers” are pampered with free hotel rooms, reduced-fare transportation, and even luxury suites.

The word casino is derived from the Italian for a small clubhouse. It was used to describe a group of gambling clubs in Italy and later spread throughout Europe, where it became a popular amusement. By the middle of the 19th century, it had become a place for European royalty and aristocracy to indulge their habit.