What Is a Casino?

From the glittering lights of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow tables of New York City’s Chinatown, a casino is simply any place where gambling games take place. While some casinos add a host of extras to attract gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, it’s possible to find more modest places that house gambling activities and would still be called a casino.

Security is an important aspect of any casino. With so much money changing hands within a limited space, there are many opportunities for cheating or theft by patrons or staff. To counter this, the vast majority of casinos have cameras located throughout the building and on the gaming floor. Additionally, most table managers and pit bosses have a “higher-up” person tracking their work, keeping an eye out for blatant cheating like palming or marking cards, and noting betting patterns that might indicate collusion.

Casinos also offer their best players comps, free goods and services such as food, drinks and show tickets. These perks are often given to people who make large bets or spend the most time at a table or slot machine. In some cases, casinos will even give away limo service and airline tickets to their big spenders.

Gambling has become an integral part of American culture. In 2002, about 51 million Americans (a quarter of all adults over 21) visited a casino. Some economists believe that this represents a loss of non-gambling spending and entertainment revenue in the local economy, while others argue that the cost of treatment for problem gambling offsets any economic benefits of casinos.