What Is a Casino?


When people talk about casinos, images of bright lights and big money come to mind. From the massive mega-casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City to tiny mountain towns that have a Wild West building full of slot machines and poker tables, there are gambling establishments throughout the United States, where patrons can try their hand at Lady Luck.

A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played, and gambling is the primary activity. Many casinos add luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract customers, but even less elaborate places that house gambling activities can be considered casinos.

Casinos are heavily regulated by government agencies and have high security to prevent cheating and other violations. On the floor, dealers and table managers watch over their game areas with a close eye, looking for blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards and dice. Elaborate surveillance systems have cameras in the ceiling that can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons. Casinos also use video feeds from their table games to a separate room filled with banked banks of monitors that can be reviewed in the event of any suspicious activity or game play.

Most casino games have a mathematically determined house edge, which means that the house always has an advantage over players and can never lose all of its money. To offset this, casinos often offer big bettors extravagant inducements such as free or reduced-fare transportation, rooms and elegant living quarters.