What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. It is often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, and cruise ships, or it may stand alone as a major tourist attraction. Many casinos host live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy, concerts and sports. The word casino has its origins in Italy, and the idea spread throughout Europe as people either thought of it themselves or copied from the Italians. The modern casino has a much wider range of games than its ancient counterparts, and it is regulated by state laws.

The modern casino is a lot like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of its entertainment (and profits for its owner) coming from gambling. Slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions of dollars in profit that casinos rake in every year. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without the games of chance that drive them.

Casinos make their money by taking a small percentage of all bets placed, an edge that can vary from game to game. This can be as low as one percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets that are made every year. It is this profit that allows casinos to build elaborate hotel towers, fountains, pyramids and replicas of famous world landmarks.

Most modern casinos also feature high-tech surveillance systems, both for security and as a marketing tool. Video cameras are used to watch over all activities on the gaming floors, with supervisors able to check betting patterns and other anomalies. In addition, specialized chips with built-in microcircuitry allow casino employees to track all bets minute by minute; and the spinning wheels of roulette and dice are monitored electronically for any statistical deviation from expected results.

Because of the large amounts of money that change hands within a casino, there is always the risk of cheating and theft, both by patrons and staff members in collusion or independently. In order to prevent these problems, most casinos have stringent rules of conduct and behavior and employ numerous security measures. The use of security cameras is a fundamental part of these rules, and they are often located in all areas of the casino. In addition, most casinos have security personnel that patrol the floors and watch for suspicious activity. Some casinos even have catwalks in the ceiling above the gaming floor, allowing surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, on all of the table games and slot machines below. This is especially useful during special events, such as high-profile poker tournaments or major sporting events. This type of monitoring is often done in conjunction with police and federal marshals.