A casino is a gambling establishment that offers patrons a variety of games of chance. Some casinos also offer food and drink services. Usually, the games offered at a casino are roulette, blackjack, baccarat, craps and poker. Some casinos also feature Far Eastern games such as sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos during the 1990s) and fan-tan.

Gambling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, with primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones found in caves and archaeological sites. The casino as an institution grew out of the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at places known as ridotti, where they could gamble and socialize without being bothered by the authorities.

Mafia money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas during the 1950s. Mobster leaders became personally involved, taking sole or partial ownership of some casinos and attempting to control other operations. Casino owners responded by hiring security guards to keep the mob out and offering comps to big gamblers.

Today’s casinos are designed to be fun and exciting places, with flashing lights and crowded tables. In addition to a variety of gambling opportunities, they often offer restaurants and bars, retail stores, and entertainment venues such as theaters and cabarets. They may also have meeting and convention facilities. In many countries, the government regulates the operation of casinos. In the United States, state laws vary widely, but many ban or restrict certain types of gambling.