What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that features games of chance and in some cases skill. Customers gamble against the house in games such as blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat, and against each other in games such as poker. The house always has an advantage over the players; this advantage is referred to as the house edge. The casino profits from the games by taking a percentage of the money wagered, or “the rake.” Casinos also give out complimentary items (called comps) to loyal patrons.

The earliest casinos were illegal, but as they gained popularity they attracted huge numbers of people and created enormous revenue streams. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in such an enterprise because it carried the taint of organized crime, but mobsters had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets. They provided the bankroll for Reno and Las Vegas casinos, and became involved personally in the management of some.

By the 1980s, casino gambling had spread from Nevada to Atlantic City and elsewhere in the country. Many state legislatures passed laws allowing for the establishment of legalized casinos.

A casino is a social environment that is designed around noise, light and excitement. Typically, players interact directly with each other or are surrounded by other people while playing table games like blackjack or poker, or slot machines. The casino industry has also become highly specialized in inventing new games to draw in different types of gamblers. Casino security is an extremely important aspect of the operation. Surveillance cameras are used throughout the facility, and sophisticated systems provide an “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino floor. Routines and patterns in game play are carefully watched, so that any deviation from expected behavior is quickly detected.