A casino, or gaming den, is a place where people can gamble on various games of chance or skill. Generally, these establishments are combined with hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues. In the United States, casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. This makes them a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
A modern casino will often feature a variety of gambling games and is staffed with trained professionals to assist players. Some casinos also offer a wide range of live entertainment, such as musical performances and stand-up comedy. Many of these casinos are famous for their opulent furnishings and luxurious design. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is perhaps one of the most famous.
In the past, casinos were often run by mob figures who hoped to attract gambling tourists. However, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in such smoky operations, which had a reputation for corruption and violence. Then, in the 1950s, the mob began to lose its grip on Reno and other gambling centers as federal crackdowns made their illegal activities less profitable. Real estate investors and hotel chains stepped in with deep pockets to buy out the mobsters and establish their own facilities.
There is one certainty about casinos: The house always wins. The odds of most casino games are mathematically determined to give the house an advantage over players, which is expressed in terms of expected value or “house edge.” Casinos may also give away complimentary items (called comps) to “good” players. These might include free meals, hotel rooms or tickets to shows.