What Is a Casino?


A casino is a public place where gambling activities take place, usually including games of chance and some skill. A casino may also offer extra amenities to attract gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks, and stage shows. While the term casino often evokes images of extravagant Las Vegas resorts, there are also less-lurid establishments that house gaming activities. These include bars, truck stops, and even racinos at racetracks.

Until the 1950s, casino gambling was largely illegal throughout the United States. Mafia families controlled many of the casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, and their money helped them build a reputation as a “destination.” Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved, however, because casino gambling had a “vice” image. Real estate investors and hotel chains seized the opportunity, buying out mob interests and operating casinos without the Mafia’s interference.

Casinos are a great source of revenue for the businesses, corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that run them. They also bring in billions of dollars annually for state and local governments that tax or regulate them.

Security is a major concern at casinos, as they are a prime target for thieves and cheats. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” to watch every table, window, and doorway. Security personnel can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons from a separate room filled with banks of security monitors. Security also observes patron behavior for signs of cheating or stealing. Gamblers’ expected reactions and motions at each game follow predictable patterns, so security workers can quickly spot anything out of the ordinary.