What Is a Casino?


The modern casino is a huge complex of gambling rooms and other features that are designed to keep patrons entertained and spending money. Slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps and keno generate the billions of dollars in profit that casinos bring in each year. Some casinos also have top-notch hotels and restaurants. Others have live entertainment and other attractions, like water slides or theme parks. The word casino has many meanings, but most of them center around gambling and an upscale atmosphere.

Casinos are regulated by state law and usually have high security. Security starts on the floor of the casino, where employees keep their eyes on games and casino patrons to make sure everything goes as it should. Dealers are especially vigilant; they have an eye for blatant cheating like palming, marking or switching cards or dice. The croupiers at table games are similarly watchful, and they follow certain routines that make it easier for them to spot out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Each casino employee has a “higher-up” person tracking them, watching their work as they go and noting statistical deviations that might signal cheating.

There are other, less visible aspects of casino security. Casinos are heavily regulated, with rules prohibiting anyone under 21 from entering, and most have security cameras in use on the premises. There are statutory penalties for loitering near any room where a licensed game, slot machine, race book or pari-mutuel betting is operated.

Some casinos try to spruce up their image in order to attract more patrons, and one method is to offer comps. These are free goods or services that a casino gives to regulars who spend large amounts of time and money there. They can include things like food, hotel rooms, show tickets and even limo service. Players should ask a casino employee or the information desk how to get their play rated so they can be eligible for comps.

In the United States, casinos are usually located in cities that are famous for their gambling or have a lot of tourists. Las Vegas is the most famous casino city, with a reputation for offering the best gaming and luxurious hotels. Many other cities have casinos, including Atlantic City, New Jersey; Reno, Nevada; and the Chicago region. Many states have a combination of riverboat, Indian and land-based casinos. Louisiana has a riverboat, two Indian casinos, America’s first urban land-based casino in New Orleans, and video poker machines at truckstops and racetracks.

While some critics of casino gambling point out that the industry is based on addictive behaviors, others argue that it boosts local economies by attracting tourist dollars. Some studies, however, suggest that the net economic impact of a casino is negative. It shifts money from other types of local entertainment and raises the cost of treating problem gamblers, reversing any economic gains that it might generate. Casinos are also accused of depressing property values in the area where they are located. Nevertheless, they continue to thrive across the country.