What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gaming house or a gambling establishment, is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance. These games may involve dice, cards, roulette, slot machines, video poker, and even bingo. Casinos can be found in many parts of the world, including some that are integrated into hotels and resorts. Some are located in cities known for their entertainment options, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Generally, casinos accept bets from patrons within a certain limit, so that no patron can win more than the casino can afford to pay. This gives the casino a virtual assurance of gross profit, assuming that all players play optimally (i.e. without counting cards). However, casinos do earn money from non-gambling activities as well, such as a rake in poker.

Something about the large amounts of money handled in casinos seems to encourage cheating and stealing, either between or by members of the same group, as well as other forms of dishonesty. This is why casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security measures. Elaborate surveillance systems are designed to give the operator an “eye-in-the-sky” view of every table, window and doorway. In addition, staff watch patrons through video cameras.

Casinos typically have a separate area for high rollers, with special rooms where the stakes can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. To encourage these big spenders, casinos offer comps, or free goods and services, such as hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows, limo service and airline tickets. Casinos will rate a player’s comps based on the amount of time and money he or she spends on a particular game.

In the United States, the typical casino patron is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. In 2005, the median household income of a casino patron was $58,417. Casinos are a major source of employment in the United States, with over 22 percent of the total jobs in the industry held by casino employees.

The casino business has long been associated with organized crime, and mobsters controlled the operations of many early casinos. However, the mob’s connections to these businesses weakened as real estate investors and hotel chains gained control of casinos. These new owners, having deeper pockets than the mobsters, could afford to buy out the mob’s interests and run their facilities without mafia interference. Federal crackdowns on the mob, as well as the threat of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mob involvement, have kept most legitimate casino businesses free of the mafia. However, the mob still runs some illegal gambling operations, such as those in Chicago.