What Is a Casino?

A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance are played. While casinos often add extra features, such as restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery to lure gamblers in, they would not exist without the billions of dollars of gambling profits raked in by their games of chance.

Gambling is a social activity, with patrons either playing against others or interacting with other players, as in poker and craps. A slew of security measures are used to ensure that the game is fair, including chips with microcircuitry that allows casinos to track bets minute by minute; electronic surveillance systems monitor tables for suspicious betting patterns; and roulette wheels and dice are monitored regularly to make sure they conform to expected results.

In the early years of casino gambling, mobster money poured into Nevada from drug dealing and other illegal rackets. Mafia members became so involved with the business that they took sole or partial ownership of many casinos, and exerted considerable influence over operations through threats to staff and mob-controlled front companies. However, government crackdowns and the fear of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of Mafia involvement meant that legitimate businessmen quickly replaced organized crime as the principal financiers of the gambling industry.

In addition to offering free drinks and food, casinos try to keep gamblers happy by making them feel special. This is done by giving big bettors luxurious inducements like free spectacular entertainment, transportation and elegant living quarters. By replacing real money with gambling chips, the casino also makes it less likely that a gambler will be concerned about how much they are losing; however, this does not reduce the house edge.