What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that features a variety of games of chance and the equipment for these games. These gambling establishments are usually built near hotels, restaurants, retail stores and cruise ships. They also offer other tourist attractions like live entertainment, sports events and more. Casinos are usually licensed by the state to operate and offer various games, including poker, blackjack, roulette and slots.

Although musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help casinos draw in visitors, the vast majority of their profits come from gambling games. Slot machines, baccarat, craps, keno, and other games of chance provide the billions in profits casinos rake in every year.

Casinos focus on customer service and have perks designed to encourage gamblers to spend more. For example, they give out free hotel rooms, buffet food, show tickets, and airline tickets to big spenders. These perks are called comps, and they can add up to huge amounts of money for the casino.

In the 1970s, gangsters controlled the major gambling operations in Nevada. Mob money kept the casinos afloat, but it also contributed to their seamy reputations. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved, but mobsters needed the money to finance their drug dealing, extortion, and other criminal activities. Real estate investors and hotel chains eventually got in the casino game, and the mobsters moved on to other ventures.

The modern casino looks more like an indoor amusement park than a gambling house. Expensive carpets, glitzy lighting, and well-dressed staff create an atmosphere that is meant to impress. Many have an Asian influence and feature Far Eastern games like sic bo and fan-tan, as well as the usual casino favorites.

Something about the nature of gambling—maybe it’s the fact that so much money is at stake—seems to attract people who want to cheat, steal, or scam their way into a jackpot. The vast majority of casino patrons are honest, but the casinos invest a lot of time and money on security to protect their profits from these unscrupulous types. Most modern casinos have sophisticated surveillance systems that allow operators to keep track of all the action on their gaming floors and in their other facilities, such as hotel rooms and restaurants. In addition, high-tech cameras with a “eye in the sky” capability can monitor everything from a single table to the entire floor of a multi-level building. These surveillance systems can be accessed by security personnel in a room filled with banks of security monitors. These systems can also be used to check out potential mobsters who might be lurking around the casino without being noticed. The camera feeds are also recorded and available for review after the fact. These recordings are a critical part of the casino’s defense against claims of criminal activity and extortion. A successful defense can often mean the difference between keeping a license to operate and being shut down by a government agency.