What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can try their hand at games of chance. Slot machines, black jack, roulette and craps are among the many popular casino games that provide billions of dollars in profit to casinos every year.

Casinos are often luxurious, extravagantly outfitted with fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. They are designed to stimulate the senses and attract customers. Many have high-end restaurants and bars, as well as top-notch hotels. Some even offer free spectacular entertainment. Others are built around a theme, such as the Venetian in Macau, which is designed to mimic Venice, complete with canals that run through the casino and gondoliers serenading visitors.

Because casinos handle large amounts of money, they must spend a considerable amount on security. This includes video cameras and other technology, as well as personnel dedicated to preventing cheating and theft. These security measures are important because casinos can be a breeding ground for greed and dishonesty. Patrons may try to scam, cheat or steal from each other, and staff members are sometimes tempted to take advantage of their position of trust.

In the past, mobsters were a major source of funds for casino owners, because they had large cash reserves from their illegal rackets and could afford to finance many games at once. However, the mobsters were not satisfied with just financing the casino games; they became personally involved and took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. They also influenced the outcome of some games by intimidation and threats to casino personnel. Eventually, legitimate businessmen with more cash than the mobsters began investing in and opening their own casinos.

Today, there are over 1,000 casinos worldwide, including many in the United States. Most of them are located in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, but some are also found on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. In addition to their gambling operations, most casinos have restaurants and bars. Some have hotels, while others are stand-alone facilities.

Some people have complained that casinos don’t do enough to promote responsible gambling. They argue that compulsive gamblers generate a disproportionate share of the profits and are a drain on local economies, because they shift spending away from other forms of entertainment and cause people to lose their jobs. They also point out that the costs of treating problem gambling often outweigh any profits that casinos bring in. Despite these complaints, casinos continue to thrive. In fact, they are expanding into other regions of the world. The most impressive example is probably the City of Dreams casino in Macau, which has become the largest gaming facility in the world. Its 376,000-square-foot casino floor contains 640 tables and 1,800 slot machines. The hotel has almost 3,000 rooms and suites, most of which have views of the Eiffel Tower. The Venetian is not far behind, with a casino that covers an area of 370,000 square feet. It includes a 135,000-square-foot casino with 400 tables featuring the most popular casino games such as baccarat, roulette and sic bo, as well as more than 2,200 video poker and slot machines.