What is a Casino?


A casino is a public place where people can play a variety of games of chance for money. Although gambling probably existed as early as the invention of dice, a modern casino usually adds a wide range of luxuries to attract customers, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Casinos are also a popular source of income for many states.

A typical casino has a floor devoted to table games and an area for slot machines. Slot machines are the economic mainstay of casinos, generating much more revenue than all other games combined. The games are easy to play: the player puts in money, pulls a handle or pushes a button, and watches the varying bands of colored shapes roll past on the reels (or a video representation of them). If a pattern matches the one programmed into the machine, the patron wins a predetermined amount of cash.

The earliest casinos in America were run by organized crime figures. Mafia money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, and mobster owners often took sole or partial ownership of some of the venues. Despite their seamy image, organized crime leaders were able to manage the casinos profitably and often lowered the house edge in order to attract more patrons.

Modern casinos have a separate security force and a specialized surveillance department. The former patrols the facility and monitors calls for assistance and reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. The latter operates a closed circuit television system known as the eye in the sky, and its cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons.