What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Some casinos are stand-alone, while others are built in or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos also offer live entertainment, such as concerts and comedy shows.

Something about the casino experience seems to encourage cheating and stealing, perhaps because large sums of money are involved. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and effort on security. Besides the obvious “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance systems that watch every table and window, floor, doorway and passageway, casino employees keep an eye out for blatant signs of cheating like palming or marking cards. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the tables and can spot betting patterns that might indicate a patron is trying to game the system.

In the past, gangsters controlled many of the casino business in Nevada and California, but federal crackdowns and the possibility of losing a license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement have forced them out of the business. Now, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets take over the glitzy casinos that put the sparkle in Las Vegas and Reno.

But no matter how much a casino spends on decor, lights and fountains, the bottom line is that they make their money from gamblers who bet on games of chance (and in some cases, skill). And while musical shows, shopping centers, lavish hotels and elaborate themes help draw crowds, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars they rake in each year from games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and slot machines.