What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. In the United States, casinos are licensed by state governments and operate under strict adherence to gaming laws. Most states only license a small number of casinos. Most of the largest casinos are located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In modern usage, the word casino may refer to any establishment that offers any form of legalized gambling, including slot machines, table games, and bingo. In some cases, the term may also be used to describe a facility where gambling is legal but not permitted by law, such as a private home. The use of the term in this sense is distinct from that of a gambling house, which is generally understood to be a public place where gambling is illegal.

The concept of a casino was first developed in the 16th century, when a craze for gambling spread across Europe. Italian aristocrats would hold social gatherings in houses known as ridotti, where gambling was the primary activity. As the fad grew, these places were replaced by casinos, which allowed patrons to find a variety of games under one roof.

Gambling in a casino can be dangerous, as patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. Casino security begins with a visible presence on the floor, where employees keep their eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. They know the routines of each game, and can spot blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards easily.

More subtle methods of ensuring fair play are employed as well. For instance, roulette wheels are electronically monitored for any statistical deviations. In addition, each casino employee has a “higher-up” supervisor who watches them as they work and notes their performance. Casinos make much of their profit from high-stakes gamblers, who are usually targeted with extravagant inducements such as free or reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms, food and drinks while gambling, limo service, and even airline tickets.

In terms of the average patron, a recent study by Harrah’s Entertainment found that the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. These high rollers are encouraged to gamble in special rooms away from the main floor, where the stakes can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. They are accompanied by a entourage of bodyguards, personal assistants, and cocktail waitresses. The heightened level of attention and surveillance ensures that the VIP’s have an enjoyable experience while gambling at the casino. In addition, these patrons are given complimentary “comps” such as food and beverage, hotel rooms, and show tickets. The casinos also collect data on the habits of their customers to improve their marketing strategies. The data is collected through a system of electronic swipe-cards and sophisticated computer systems that track player’s behavior.

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