What Is a Casino?


A casino (also called a gambling house or gaming establishment) is a place where people can play games of chance for money or other rewards. The casino may also offer other amusements such as stage shows, free drinks, and dining. In the past, casinos were often run by organized crime groups, who financed them with money from drug trafficking, extortion, and other illegal activities. The mafia presence in casinos gave them a seamy reputation that has since faded, and they are now generally seen as places where people can go to relax and enjoy entertainment.

Something about gambling (probably the presence of large amounts of money) seems to encourage people to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other patrons or independently. Because of this, casinos spend a great deal of time and effort on security. Video surveillance is one obvious way that casinos protect themselves, but there are other ways as well. The routines of casino games create patterns that can help security people spot unusual activity. Also, the heightened level of noise and excitement in the casino can make it easier for security personnel to spot suspicious behavior.

While casinos often add a variety of amenities to attract gamblers (such as restaurants, free drinks, and stage shows), they would not exist without the games of chance that generate the billions in profits that they rake in every year. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, baccarat, and other games of chance are the foundation of casino revenue.