What is a Casino?


A Casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. It has a host of luxuries to help draw in patrons, like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Some have even added fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks to make them more picturesque. Casinos also provide incentives for big bettors, with gifts like hotel rooms, luxury cars and airline tickets. These inducements are called comps.

A casino is a business, and like any other business it has to make a profit. It does so by adding a built in advantage to every game of chance. The advantage can be small, less than two percent, but it is there and adds up over time. Because of this, it is very rare for a casino to lose money on a single day. This virtual assurance of gross profit allows casinos to spend a fortune on elaborate structures, such as pyramids, towers and replicas of famous buildings.

In order to ensure that a casino does not cheat or steal, it employs security personnel. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye in the sky” that lets security workers see all of the casino at once, with cameras focused on each table, window and doorway. They can be adjusted to focus on certain suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors. Similarly, the many slots in a casino are monitored by video cameras. Each machine has a different payout, which is controlled by computers inside the machines.

Gambling is a game of chance, but something about gambling-perhaps the presence of large sums of money-seems to encourage people to cheat or steal. This is why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security.

While legitimate businessmen were initially reluctant to get involved in the new gambling industry, organized crime figures saw casinos as a great way to launder their profits from drug dealing and other illegal rackets. Mafia moguls pumped huge amounts of cash into Nevada casinos, and took sole or partial ownership of some.

Casinos offer a variety of casino games, including roulette, craps and poker. In addition to these traditional western games, they often offer more exotic Far Eastern games, notably sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan and pai-gow. Some casinos also feature table games such as baccarat, chemin de fer and trente et quarante.

Casinos vary by location, and their gambling offerings are influenced by local culture and traditions. For example, the Las Vegas Strip is home to American casinos, while Asian casinos concentrate on Far Eastern games such as baccarat and mahjong. In 2005, a study by Harrah’s Entertainment found that female casino gamblers favor electronic gaming, while men prefer table games.