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What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people play games of chance or skill for money. It may refer to a building that houses one or more gambling establishments, or it can describe an entire complex of casinos, such as those in Monte Carlo and Las Vegas. Casinos are most often associated with gambling, but they also offer sports betting and horse racing. Some casinos specialize in a particular type of game or attraction, such as an exotic location or theme.

Successful casinos take in billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that own them. They also generate millions in taxes, fees, and payments from customers. These revenues benefit local governments, which often impose license fees or taxes on casinos.

Gambling has long been an important source of entertainment and recreation in many societies, from ancient Mesopotamia and Greece to Napoleonic France and Elizabethan England. For most of America’s history, however, the practice was illegal, and only when Nevada passed a law allowing casino gambling in 1931 did it become a major industry.

Mob money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, but mobster owners were not content to be mere bankrollers. They became personally involved, took sole or partial ownership of some casinos, and used threats of violence to control the outcome of some games. Federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement eventually drove the mobsters out of the business, leaving casinos in the hands of legitimate businessmen.