What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. A casino’s economic base consists of the billions of dollars in gross profit raked in each year by slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps and other games. In addition to the games, casinos often offer other entertainment activities such as stage shows, restaurants and bars. In the past, many casinos were run by organized crime groups, but the mob’s loss of power and fear of federal crackdowns have prompted real estate investors and hotel chains to take control.

Because casino patrons handle large amounts of money, cheating and theft are common in casinos. To prevent this, most casinos have security measures. The most obvious are the numerous surveillance cameras, which provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky view of every table, window and doorway. During play, the cameras also allow security personnel to watch for patterns of behavior that might signal suspicious actions. In addition, pit bosses and managers keep an eye on the blackjack tables to make sure dealers aren’t palming cards or marking dice.

The name “casino” is Italian, and it originally referred to a villa or summerhouse, but it soon became associated with entertainment based on chance. The earliest modern casinos were located in France, where gambling was legal. In the United States, modern casinos are primarily in Nevada and Atlantic City, though several states have legalized gaming. The word casino was used in English from the 17th century, and it eventually came to mean any type of gambling establishment.

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