What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof, whether it is at tables, video poker, slot machines, or keno. Casinos range in size from huge resorts to small card rooms. They may also offer restaurants, hotels, non-gambling game rooms, bars, swimming pools, and other amenities to draw visitors and players. They generate billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that run them, as well as state and local governments that levy taxes on gaming profits.

Although gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the modern casinos did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats established private clubs for socializing in which gambling was the primary activity. These clubhouses, called ridotti, became the prototype for modern casinos [Source: Poley].

Casinos use sophisticated technological measures to ensure security and to monitor patron behavior. For example, some casinos have catwalks that allow surveillance personnel to look down on the casino floor from overhead. Others have cameras that track patrons from table to table and are able to adjust their focus to zoom in on suspicious activity. Slot machines have electronic monitoring systems that alert the casino staff to any anomalies in payouts.

Most casinos offer comps to loyal patrons, such as free food, drinks, or hotel room upgrades. These programs encourage frequent play and build a database of customer profiles that can be used for marketing purposes. Gambling addiction is a serious problem, and studies show that the net economic impact of casinos in communities is often negative because they divert local spending away from other entertainment options and cause problem gamblers to spend money they would otherwise save.