What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility where certain types of gambling activities take place. Modern casinos add a multitude of luxurious amenities to the gambling experience, from restaurants and free drinks to stage shows and dramatic scenery, but the bulk of a casino’s profit comes from games of chance such as slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps and keno that require a random element for winning. These are the same games that make up most of the billions in profits raked in by U.S. casinos each year.

For many years, the development of casinos in America was impeded by state antigambling laws. Despite being illegal, however, these establishments continued to operate openly and with the complicity of local law enforcement authorities. During the 1980s, some states amended their laws to permit casinos, and in the 1990s the first legal casinos began to appear on American Indian reservations.

Today, there are hundreds of casinos in operation around the world. Although they vary in size and scope, most are similar in appearance and structure. Most are surrounded by lavish architecture, with the exterior and interior walls covered in intricate designs or decorated in rich colors. Decorative elements often include statues, waterfalls and fountains. Some casinos also feature themed gardens, pools or art displays.

Casinos are designed to maximize revenue by attracting the highest-spending patrons and offering them extravagant inducements in return for their business. High rollers are given free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters and reduced-fare transportation to and from the casino. These rewards, along with the mathematical expectancy that every game offered by a casino has of yielding a profit for it, ensure that the gross revenue of most casinos is virtually assured.

Although something about the nature of gambling encourages cheating, theft and scamming, casinos employ a vast amount of time, effort and money to maintain an almost impenetrable layer of security to guard against these hazards. On the casino floor, employees keep an eye on all activity, ensuring that gamblers are not stealing chips from each other or engaging in blatantly fraudulent strategies like palming cards or marking dice. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the games, watching for suspicious betting patterns that could indicate cheating.

In addition to the human element, casinos invest heavily in technology and computer monitoring systems to spot any statistical deviation from expected results. For example, chip tracking allows a casino to oversee the exact amounts of each bet placed minute by minute; and roulette wheels are monitored electronically to detect any anomalies in their expected rotations.

A 2005 study by Harrah’s Entertainment revealed that the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above average income, who spends about 23% of her available disposable income on gaming. This compares with the national average of 20%, and it’s a figure that’s slowly rising. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, first welcomed royalty and the European aristocracy to its casinos 150 years ago, and it still draws those in search of an elegant experience.