A casino, also known as a gambling house, is a facility for playing games of chance. Some casinos specialize in one game, such as blackjack, while others have a wide variety of table and slot machines. A few casinos are so large that they can have restaurants, theaters, hotel rooms and even water parks.
The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it has long been a popular activity in almost every culture around the world. Today the most famous casinos are found in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other resort towns. They are also a feature of many American Indian reservations.
In addition to offering the usual games of chance, many casinos also feature traditional Far Eastern entertainment such as sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan and pai gow. Casinos worldwide also offer a range of poker games, including baccarat (or chemin de fer), blackjack and trente et quarante.
Historically, the largest and most spectacular casinos were built by mafia families. With their vast funds from bootlegging, extortion and other illegal rackets, these criminal syndicates were able to splurge on elaborate architecture, fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. But as legitimate businessmen gained control of the industry and federal crackdowns made mob involvement suspect, mob bosses became less interested in owning casinos. Eventually, hotel and real estate investors with even more money bought out the mob, and today casinos are owned by large corporations and individual billionaires.