What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming hall, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, restaurants and shopping centers or are standalone attractions.

The casino industry was once dominated by organized crime, with mob money flowing into Reno and Las Vegas. Eventually, legitimate businessmen realized the potential of casinos and began buying up property and opening them. Real estate developers and hotel chains like Donald Trump and the Hilton organization soon had more money than the gangsters, and were able to buy out the mafia’s interest in casinos. Federal crackdowns and the possibility of losing a license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement keep the mafia out of casinos today.

Gambling in one form or another has been part of human culture for millennia. Evidence of dice games shows up in China around 2300 BC, and playing cards became popular in Europe in the 1400s. Baccarat is the principal card game in many European casinos, and blackjack is a fixture in American ones. A few casinos offer poker variants such as Caribbean stud, but most do not accept bets on individual players, instead making their profits by taking a cut of each pot or charging an hourly fee to play.

Modern casinos make heavy use of technology for security purposes. For example, in “chip tracking,” betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows casinos to oversee the exact amounts of each wager minute by minute, and to be alerted to any statistical deviations. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky, with cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons.