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What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gaming house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Most casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping or other tourist attractions. Some states have laws regulating the operation of casinos. Many casinos are owned and operated by governments, while others are independent. Some are located in major cities, while others are in rural areas.

Although musical shows, lighted fountains, and elaborate hotel suites all help draw visitors to casinos, they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and other games provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos earn each year.

While some casinos offer only a limited selection of games, others feature dozens of different titles. Those that specialize in poker generally have a dozen or more tables, and they may host regular tournaments that attract players from across the country. Casinos also offer other types of live entertainment, such as comedy shows and concerts.

Casinos spend a great deal of money on security. Staff members patrol the floor to watch for blatant cheating, and pit bosses and table managers monitor each game with a more granular view, noting any betting patterns that suggest a patron is trying to gain an advantage. Video cameras and computerized systems allow casinos to monitor the exact amounts wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored for deviations from their expected payout percentages.

Something about the nature of gambling seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and scam their way into winning jackpots. Mobster money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, and many casinos were owned or part-owned by organized crime figures. Even legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos, which had a taint of vice and illegal activity.