A casino is a public place where people can play a variety of games of chance and win money. Some casinos also offer other forms of entertainment such as stage shows and dramatic scenery to help attract customers. Casinos may be located in commercial buildings, hotels, resorts, or cruise ships. They are often combined with other attractions such as shopping, dining, and entertainment events.
Most casino games are based on luck, but some have an element of skill. The house always has a mathematical advantage over the players. The casino earns its profit by taking a percentage of the bets made by the customers, called rake. Casinos usually have an extensive security force to protect guests and prevent crime.
The word casino is derived from the Italian city of Venice, where in 1638 the government authorized the construction of the first government-sanctioned gambling house. It was known as the Ridotto, and was a four-story building with various rooms for primitive card games and a selection of food and drink to keep the customers satisfied.
Casinos have evolved considerably since their inception. Originally, they were run by organized crime figures who had plenty of cash from their drug dealing and extortion rackets, but in the 1950s and 1960s legitimate businessmen began to see that casino ownership could be quite lucrative. In Las Vegas, real estate investors and hotel chains such as Donald Trump and the Hilton had deep enough pockets to purchase outright the mobster-run casinos.