What Is a Casino?


A casino (pronounced ca*si*no) is an entertainment complex featuring games of chance and often buffets, bars, shops and hotels. Casinos are found in cities and vacation spots around the world and generate billions of dollars in profits each year for the owners, investors and Native American tribes that operate them. In addition to dazzling architectural designs, modern casinos have become increasingly technologically sophisticated. Electronic systems monitor betting chips minute-by-minute and alert managers to any statistical deviation; roulette wheels are electronically monitored for anomalies. Casinos also employ a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance system that allows security personnel to track every table, window and doorway from a room filled with banks of computer screens.

While musical shows and dazzling shopping centers help attract patrons, the bulk of a casino’s revenue comes from gambling. The most popular games are slot machines, blackjack, craps, baccarat and roulette. In addition to their main rooms, casinos offer game machines in bar and restaurant areas, on boats and at racetracks (racinos).

Casinos attract wealthy patrons and are a major source of income for local governments. But they can be a temptation to both staff and patrons, who may cheat or steal, either in collusion with management or independently. High rollers are especially vulnerable to such exploitation. They are usually given free or reduced-fare transportation, luxury suites and other inducements, even when they lose money.

The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden first attracted European royalty and aristocracy 150 years ago, and it still draws many such guests today. But even the most lavish casinos can’t overcome the fact that they are in business to make a profit.