What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. While entertainment like shows and fine dining are a big draw, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits generated by gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat account for most of that money.

In the beginning, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos. They saw them as tainted with organized crime, given their illegal origins. But mobsters had no such qualms; they supplied the capital to keep casinos operating in Reno and Las Vegas and became personally involved, taking sole or partial ownership of some and exerting influence over others.

Modern casinos are generally very safe places to be, thanks to a combination of physical security forces and specialized departments for surveillance. The latter monitors the casino’s closed circuit television system (known in the industry as the eye in the sky) and other surveillance systems to detect and deter criminal activity.

While most casino revenues come from gambling, some states allow other types of gaming. For example, some permit riverboat or pari-mutuel gambling; some prohibit classic commercial casinos altogether while permitting Native American casinos on reservation lands. Others, such as Utah, strictly prohibit any type of casino gambling. Whatever the case, most people enjoy the thrill of winning and losing at casino games. They may win millions, or just a few cents, but they all enjoy the experience. Something about gambling, though, seems to encourage some people to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other patrons or independently. This is a problem that casinos spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money to combat.