What Is a Casino?

What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. These establishments may be integrated with hotels, restaurants, retail shops or cruise ships and are often located in or near cities. In the United States, casinos are regulated by state law and are usually owned by private entities such as corporations or trusts. Some are operated by government-related entities or Native American tribes.

The word casino comes from the Latin kasino, meaning “gambling house.” The earliest casinos were places for music and dancing, but eventually expanded to include table games such as roulette, blackjack and poker. Many of these games are based on chance, although some have an element of skill. Some casinos offer only a few table games, while others have numerous tables and slot machines. In some cases, the games are automated and require no human dealer.

Modern casinos rely on sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor patrons and the games. In addition to security cameras, electronic systems such as “chip tracking” enable casinos to oversee the exact amounts being wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results. Some casinos even use catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor, enabling security personnel to look directly down on the activities of players through one-way glass.

Because most casino games have a mathematical expectancy of winning, it is extremely rare for a casino to lose money on any given day. This virtually guarantees the casino a net profit, and it is for this reason that casinos frequently offer large bettors extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters and transportation and reduced-fare hotel rooms.

While the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling, many other activities contribute to its revenue. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes draw people to the casinos. Some casinos also make money from food and beverage sales, and some have race tracks or golf courses. Many of these facilities are owned by the same owners as the casinos, and some have shared ownership.

Many casinos are run by the mob, but as organized crime groups have diminished in power and influence, more and more are being run by businessmen with deep pockets. Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel company, for example, both own several casinos. However, federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of mafia involvement mean that legitimate casino businesses keep the mob away from their gambling cash cows. Nevertheless, the mob still has a strong presence in some areas of the country, and some casinos have been used as fronts for illegal activities such as prostitution.