A casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities.
The industry that deals in casinos is called the gaming industry.
Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions.
There is much debate over whether the social and economic consequences of casino gambling outweigh the initial revenue that may be generated.
During the 19th century, the term casino came to include other public buildings where pleasurable activities took place; such edifices were usually built on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo, and were used to host civic town functions, including dancing, gambling, music listening, and sports; examples in Italy include Villa Farnese and Villa Giulia, and in the US the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island.
In modern-day Italian—the source-language of the word—a casino is either a brothel (also called casa chiusa, literally "closed house"), a mess, or a noisy environment, while a gaming house is spelt casinò, with an accent.
A famous landmark overlooking Avalon Harbor on Santa Catalina Island, California, has never been used for traditional games of chance, which were already outlawed in California by the time it was built.
The Copenhagen Casino was a theatre, known for the mass public meetings often held in its hall during the 1848 Revolution, which made Denmark a constitutional monarchy. The Hanko Casino in Hanko, Finland—one of that town's most conspicuous landmarks—was never used for gambling.
Rather, it was a banquet hall for the Russian nobility which frequented this spa resort in the late 19th century and is now used as a restaurant. It is generally believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history.
From the Ancient Greeks and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance.
The first known European gambling house, not called a casino although meeting the modern definition, was the Ridotto, established in Venice, Italy in 1638 by the Great Council of Venice to provide controlled gambling during the carnival season.
It was closed in 1774 as the city government felt it was impoverishing the local gentry.