What Is a Casino?


A casino, also called a gaming establishment or simply a casino, is a public place where people can play various games of chance. It can also have a variety of other entertainment offerings. The most common games played in casinos are slot machines, table games like blackjack and roulette, and poker. Some of these games require a high degree of skill, while others involve chance alone. The casino industry is heavily regulated by government agencies to ensure fair play and prevent criminal activity.

Throughout much of the United States’ history, gambling was illegal. When Nevada legalized it in 1931, casino owners realized they could become a major tourist attraction and draw customers from across the country. But they struggled to find legitimate businessmen willing to get involved in their seamy businesses. Instead, they turned to organized crime figures with lots of cash from drug dealing and extortion schemes. Mob money kept the casinos afloat, and mobster owners even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos.

Modern casino operations use technology to monitor games and patrons. Electronic systems in table games such as baccarat, roulette and craps enable casinos to oversee wagers minute-by-minute and quickly spot any statistical deviations; video cameras can detect suspicious betting patterns. Even non-automated machines are increasingly monitored electronically; for example, a special device in blackjack allows the casino to see the player’s hand and the dealer’s face at the same time. The casino environment is typically noisy and bright, with gaudy floor and wall coverings that have a stimulating and cheering effect.