What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble, and is a major source of revenue for many countries. Casinos are usually built near or combined with hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions. In the United States, the most famous casinos are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. A casino is also known as a gaming house or gambling hall. The word is derived from the Latin word for “house” (cassino), and is also related to the Italian word for dice, cassa (casa).

While casinos are not primarily social institutions, they are designed to create excitement and energy. Music and lights throb, and players shout encouragement to each other. Alcoholic drinks are easily available and are served to patrons as they play games. Nonalcoholic beverages and snacks are also available.

The games offered in a casino vary by country, with the most common being poker, blackjack, roulette and craps. Other popular games include baccarat and slot machines. A casino is often associated with a specific region or country and may have themes based on local culture or history. For example, the Casino at Monte-Carlo is a famous casino and has been a source of income for the principality of Monaco.

Casinos make money by taking advantage of the irrationality and emotional intensity of human beings who play games of chance. Every game in a casino has a built in advantage for the house, which can be as small as two percent. This edge earns the casinos enough to build elaborate hotels, fountains and towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

Because of the high amount of money involved, casinos are prone to cheating and theft by both patrons and employees. This is why most casinos have very strict security measures. They have a physical security force that patrols the casino, and a specialized surveillance department with a sophisticated “eye in the sky” system. The cameras are able to watch every table, change windows and doors, and can be adjusted to zoom in on any suspicious patrons.

In addition to these security measures, most casinos have trained staff members to deal with problem gamblers and other sensitive situations. They are also able to provide free rooms and food for those who are unable to afford them.

In the past, mobsters controlled many of the early casinos in Nevada and other parts of the country. They supplied the cash that funded expansion and renovation, and were willing to accept gambling’s seamy image because of their control of illegal rackets such as drug dealing and extortion. In the 1950s, these mobster-controlled casinos were replaced by more legitimate owners, but the mobsters continued to finance casino operations and even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos.