What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building where various games of chance can be played and gambling is the primary activity. Although a modern casino often includes stage shows, free drinks, restaurants and hotel rooms, the vast majority of revenue comes from gambling and gaming. Table games such as blackjack, roulette and craps and card games such as poker, baccarat and keno are all popular casino games. A croupier or dealer runs each game and manages payment for winning bets. Casinos are usually crowded and noisy and adorned in bright, sometimes gaudy colors that stimulate the senses and promote excitement.

Gambling is legalized in most countries and the majority of casinos are located in states where gambling is permitted. Some are built by government agencies, such as tribal governments, and some are privately owned. The casino industry is regulated by state governments and, in some cases, federal laws. Many states require that casino owners share profits with local governments, and some even offer tax incentives to attract businesses.

Modern casino gaming is heavily influenced by technology. Using microcircuitry, betting chips are electronically monitored minute-by-minute and can be warned of any deviation from expected outcomes; roulette wheels are computer-controlled to ensure accuracy; and sophisticated surveillance systems offer a high-tech eye in the sky. Casinos are also becoming increasingly choosy about who they allow to gamble. High rollers are allowed to play in special rooms separate from the main floor where their bets can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. In return for their large wagers, these high rollers are offered free spectacular entertainment, limousine transportation, luxury hotel suites and lavish personal attention.

A casino’s security department is a complex affair that includes a physical security force and a specialized department that oversees a surveillance system called the “eye in the sky.” Security personnel patrol the casino to respond to calls for assistance or suspicious or definite criminal activity. They also monitor the video feeds from cameras that watch every table, window and doorway. The video can be rewound to watch suspicious movements and behavior.

As casinos grow to be more like an indoor amusement park for adults, the gambling portion of a casino’s business continues to dominate its profits. The games of chance that casino patrons play — including slots, roulette, blackjack and baccarat — bring in billions of dollars in profits for U.S. casinos each year. While other attractions such as musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw people to the casino floors, casinos would not exist without these games of chance. This article will look at the history behind casino gambling, some of the most popular games and how they are played, how casinos stay safe and the dark side of this lucrative business.