What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gaming house, is a place where people wager money on games of chance. Although casinos offer many forms of entertainment, such as dazzling lights and musical shows, they generate most of their revenue from gambling. Casinos are located around the world and, with some exceptions, are regulated by state laws. In the late 19th century casinos began appearing in Europe and the United States, often on American Indian reservations. These casinos were not subject to state antigambling laws and allowed high stakes betting. They also offered a wide variety of gambling games, from traditional table games to keno and bingo.

Unlike home gambling, where the player deals cards and runs the game, casino games are dealt by professional dealers in a controlled setting. This allows the casino to monitor play and quickly spot statistical deviations from expected results. During the 1990s casinos greatly increased their use of technology to control their operations. Chips with built-in microcircuitry are used to monitor exact amounts of money wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical anomalies. In addition, the casino can remotely supervise a large number of video surveillance cameras to look for suspicious behavior.

Some casinos are “banked,” in which the house has a stake in every outcome of the game. These include blackjack, craps and roulette. Other games, such as baccarat and traditional slot machines, are not banked and the casino simply collects a percentage of the total amount wagered. The house’s advantage in these games is small, often less than two percent.

In the 21st century, casinos are focusing their investments on “high roller” players, who spend more than the average gambler. These high rollers are given free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and other perks, but only if they can be persuaded to gamble at the casino’s tables or slot machines. Some casinos even offer limo service and airline tickets to high rollers.

Casinos are not only a popular form of gambling, but they’re also a source of employment for thousands of workers in the United States. Some of these jobs are low-paying, such as cashiers and cocktail waitresses, while others can provide a good salary for highly skilled workers, such as security guards, pit bosses and card dealers. The casino industry is also a major contributor to tourism, with many visitors coming to Vegas or Atlantic City for gambling and other entertainment.