What Is a Casino?


The word casino is derived from the Italian casona, meaning “cloister,” or “enclosed room.” Casinos are buildings that offer gambling games of chance. They include a wide variety of gambling establishments, including those with slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, and other table games. Casinos earn billions in profits each year for the owners, investors, and the companies that operate them. They also contribute to the economy of the cities, states and regions where they are located.

The success of casinos depends on the number of visitors and their spending habits. In the twenty-first century, many casinos focus on attracting high rollers, those who gamble large amounts. These patrons often gamble in rooms separate from the main casino floor and are offered comps (free or discounted food, drinks, hotel rooms, and shows) that can amount to thousands of dollars. In addition, they are given a VIP treatment that attracts other potential patrons.

Because so much money changes hands in a casino, security is a major concern. Patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. To combat this, casinos have elaborate surveillance systems. Cameras mounted on the ceiling of every game room and on casino walkways provide a constant eye-in-the-sky, while monitors in a surveillance control room allow security personnel to zoom in on particular suspicious patrons. In addition, the routines and patterns of casino games are standardized, making it easier for security to spot suspicious behavior.