What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof, and it would not exist without games of chance such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and slot machines. While a casino may add entertainment such as musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers to attract guests, the vast majority of its profits come from gambling activities.

In the United States, casinos are generally operated by commercial establishments. They are also known as card clubs, racetracks or gaming rooms. The word “casino” is derived from the Latin cardo, meaning “table”. Although casinos are often associated with Las Vegas and other locations in Nevada, they can be found in many cities across the country. The Bellagio, for example, is famous for its dancing fountains, luxurious accommodations and high-end restaurants. The movie Ocean’s 11 portrayed the Bellagio as a glamorous casino, and it helped to introduce the casino to a wide audience of viewers.

Although casino owners try to draw in customers by providing extravagant entertainment, it is the games of chance that generate the billions of dollars in annual profits. Most games have a built-in statistical advantage for the house, which is sometimes called the house edge or the vig. These advantages, which are uniformly negative from the player’s perspective, give the casino a profit. Something about the nature of gambling seems to encourage cheating, stealing and scamming by patrons, and so casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. Most modern casinos have elaborate surveillance systems, with cameras on catwalks that allow security personnel to watch the entire floor through a system of one-way mirrors and monitors.