A casino is a large building where people can gamble and play games of chance. It can be found in many cities around the world, from Las Vegas and Atlantic City to tiny mountain towns with gambling halls that resemble 19th century Wild West buildings. Most people think of casinos as places where it is possible to walk in with a wad of cash and leave with a whole lot more.
Gambling has been a part of every culture on earth for thousands of years. There are even records of Native American games that predate the Europeans. But the modern casino as we know it was born in Nevada, and then spread across the United States, as other states realized the money they could make by legalizing gambling.
In the early days of casinos, gangsters controlled most of them. But as the industry grew and real estate investors and hotel chains got involved, mob control was lessened. Now, the biggest casinos are owned by huge companies like Donald Trump and the Hilton family. They concentrate on the high rollers, who spend a lot of time and money gambling. They get special treatment, including free hotel rooms, dinners, tickets to shows and limo service and airline tickets.
Casinos make their money by taking a small percentage of each bet, usually lower than two percent. This is known as the house edge, and it can vary by game. It can be higher on some games, such as blackjack, than on video poker and slot machines.