What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. These establishments are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos also host live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy or concerts. The word casino is derived from the Latin cazino, meaning “games of chance.” This article will discuss how casinos make their money, some of the most popular games played in them, and how they stay safe. It will also look at the dark side of the business and how casinos attract people to cheat, steal and break the law in their pursuit of riches.

When most people think of casinos, they envision the megaresorts in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. But a casino can be much less lavish and still be called one. The essential feature is that it offers a variety of games of chance and gambling is the primary activity. The typical casino adds luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery to draw in the crowds, but these do not fundamentally change the nature of the enterprise.

Casinos have been around for centuries. The ancient Egyptians had gaming tables, as did the Romans and the Chinese. But it was only in the 1950s that legalized casino gambling began to take off. Mafia figures were already flush with cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other rackets, and they saw the potential to profit from gambling’s seamy image. They provided the funding for many casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, took sole or partial ownership of others, and even rigged some games to their advantage. Federal crackdowns and the prospect of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mob involvement eventually drove the mobsters out of the business.

Casinos are in business to make money, and they rake in billions each year for the companies, corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. They are also a major source of revenue for state and local governments, which collect taxes on the profits. Casinos employ a variety of security measures to ensure the safety of their patrons and employees. In addition to the obvious surveillance cameras throughout the building, many casinos have elaborate systems that provide a high-tech “eye in the sky” view of the gaming floor and the players. This system allows casino personnel to spot blatant scams such as “palming” (where the player puts their hand into the game to conceal cards or dice) and other deceptions. It can also help catch dealers and managers who may be stealing from the house. The system is designed to detect and alert a higher-up if suspicious activity occurs. It is also a powerful deterrent against illegal activities such as drugs, weapons and explosives brought into the building. A casino without such a system is not a casino in any meaningful sense of the word. These systems are expensive to implement and require constant monitoring, but they are a necessary part of a successful casino operation.