What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building or room where people can play various games of chance for money. The word is derived from the Italian casona, meaning “cloister.” Early modern casinos developed in Italy and France. The French developed games such as chemin de fer and baccarat, while the Italians perfected the game of roulette.

In the United States, the gambling industry is dominated by a few large casinos. The largest is in Las Vegas, which generates more revenue than all other U.S. casinos combined. Other major casinos include Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Chicago. The number of casinos has increased dramatically since the late 1980s, as more states legalized gambling.

Besides gambling, casinos also offer dining, entertainment, and other amenities. They often provide perks to encourage people to spend more, such as free drinks and buffets. The Bellagio in Las Vegas, for instance, has a branch of New York’s prestigious Le Cirque restaurant and Hermes and Chanel boutiques. In the past, some casinos offered deluxe perks such as private planes and hotel suites to attract high rollers, who could afford to gamble with much larger sums of money.

Something about gambling seems to inspire cheating, theft and other types of dishonest behavior. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. For example, some casinos have cameras throughout the building, with special lenses to focus on specific tables or other suspicious areas. Others have sophisticated surveillance systems that provide a “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino from a control room filled with monitors. Casinos also analyze their games to identify the house edge and variance. These mathematicians and computer programmers are called gaming analysts.

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