What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. Some casinos are massive, with breathtaking decor and a mind-blowing number of gambling machines and tables. Other casinos are smaller, and focus on a specific type of gaming, such as poker. They may also offer non-gambling activities, hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as other forms of entertainment. Regardless of size and location, the best casinos in the world are stunning, immersive experiences that put patrons in the lap of luxury for the duration of their visit.

Modern casinos are like indoor amusement parks for adults, but the vast majority of their revenue comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in each year.

While gambling almost certainly predates written history, the concept of a casino as a place where patrons could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century. During this time, the popularity of gambling grew as European nobles began to gather in private places called ridotti, where they could gamble and socialize with their peers. Although gambling was technically illegal in Europe at the time, this didn’t stop wealthy aristocrats from frequenting these venues.

When Nevada legalized gambling in the 1950s, organized crime figures were quick to jump on the bandwagon and begin investing their money into casinos. These mobster-controlled casinos thrived until federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a casino license at even the slightest hint of mafia involvement caused them to fade into history. Today, legitimate businessmen are more interested in taking a bite out of the casino pie than mobsters are, and large casino companies have popped up all over the world.

Casino security starts on the floor of the casino, where employees keep an eye on the game play and players to make sure everything goes as it should. Table managers and pit bosses watch over the table games with a wider view, making sure that patrons aren’t stealing from other tables or trying to cheat by marking or switching cards or dice.

More sophisticated security is in the form of cameras that give a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino at once. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on certain suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors, and the video feeds are recorded for later review. Despite these technological safeguards, casinos still have to deal with the fact that something about gambling just seems to encourage people to steal, cheat and scam their way into a jackpot. Whether it’s the flashing lights, the roar of the crowd or the promise of huge winnings, casinos have to be constantly on their guard against dishonest gamblers. This is why many casinos invest so much time, money and effort into their security systems. They know that the only way to stay ahead of the competition is to protect their reputations at all costs.