What Is a Casino?


A casino is a public place where people can play games of chance for money. Modern casinos often add luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract customers. But even places that focus purely on gambling can be called casinos, and there have been less extravagant ones throughout history.

The modern casino has a large staff of security personnel to protect patrons and prevent crime. Security is typically divided into a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The physical security team patrols the casino, responding to calls for assistance and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. The specialized surveillance department operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, known as the eye-in-the-sky.

Most casino games have built in statistical advantages for the house, or vigorish, which earns it profits from every bet placed by patrons. These advantages can be relatively small, but they add up over time to give the casino enough revenue to support its elaborate hotels, fountains, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. Casinos also make money from high rollers, who gamble tens of thousands of dollars at a time and receive lavish compensation (comps) from the casino, including free luxury suites and personal attention from casino managers.

In the United States, a casino is a licensed and regulated gambling establishment. Casinos are usually operated by local governments, tribal governments or private businesses. Some casinos specialize in specific types of games, such as baccarat or poker. Most states have legalized casinos, although a few have banned them or restricted their operations. Some casinos are operated by organized crime groups, which use the proceeds of illegal activities like drug dealing and extortion to finance the operations.