What Is a Casino?


In the past, a casino was a place where a variety of games of chance were played. Today, a modern casino is much more than that – it is an entertainment complex with a vast array of gaming activities and non-gambling amenities. Some of them even have hotels and restaurants as well as bars, pools and spas, making them attractive to guests of all ages.

The casino industry makes billions of dollars every year and has become one of the most popular forms of gambling. There are more than 60 casinos in the United States and dozens more around the world, including many on cruise ships. Casinos offer a wide range of games, from slot machines to table games like blackjack and poker. In addition, they feature shows and other forms of live entertainment.

While the etymology of the word casino suggests it may have been a private club or social club, it has since come to refer to any place that offers gambling activities. During the early 20th century, a number of these establishments sprung up in Nevada and other cities where gambling was legalized. Some of these were owned by legitimate businessmen, but the majority of them were operated by organized crime figures, who had the money to make the most of the new gambling opportunities.

These mafia-owned casinos dominated the business for several decades, and their profits provided much of the funding for other types of gambling in the United States. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos, which had a reputation for being seedy and illegal, but the mobsters didn’t care about this, as they had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other criminal operations. They even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos, and they influenced the outcome of some games by using their clout to intimidate gamblers.

The mobsters’ control of the casino business waned in the late 1970s and 1980s as legitimate businesses began to invest in these facilities. The influx of outside capital allowed them to expand and improve their facilities, as well as hire better staff members. The casinos also began to employ technology to monitor their games, including the use of high-tech video cameras to watch all tables, changing windows and doorways. The cameras can be adjusted by security personnel to focus on suspicious patrons, and they can record video, so if there is a problem, the casino will have proof.

Casinos have many other attractions to draw in their customers besides the gaming facilities, but they would not exist without the games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps provide the billions of dollars in profits that they rake in each year. They are joined by a huge assortment of other games, including Asian games such as sic bo and fan-tan. Some casinos also offer two-up, keno and pai-gow.