A Casino (or Gambling House) is a place for certain types of gambling. They are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships. Many casinos feature live entertainment and are known for their upscale clientele. They are also known for their specialized security systems, and their use of technology to monitor patrons and their behavior.

Most casinos are located in states where gambling is legal. Casinos are large businesses that generate billions of dollars in profits annually. Many of those profits come from gaming, which is done through games of chance or skill (such as blackjack and video poker) in which the house always has a mathematical advantage over the players. The casino makes its profit by taking a percentage of each bet or charging an hourly fee.

While gambling probably existed before written history, the modern casino is a fairly new invention. Its origins are obscure, but it is believed to have developed in Europe during a period of great gambling crazes in the 16th century. Italian aristocrats gathered in private clubs known as ridotti to gamble and socialize. These clubs were technically illegal, but the gentry was seldom bothered by authorities.

In the United States, casino gambling is mainly legal in Nevada and Atlantic City. Although the industry was once controlled by mobster money, legitimate real estate investors and hotel chains grew increasingly interested in the potential of casino business. They were able to buy out the mafia and operate casinos without the mob’s meddling. Eventually, federal anti-mob laws and the threat of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement kept organized crime from getting too involved with casino operations.