What Is a Casino?



A casino, also called a gambling house or a gaming house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. These include card games, dice games, slot machines, and table games such as roulette, craps, and poker. In addition to gambling, some casinos have restaurants, bars, and other entertainment venues. Some are owned by governments and are open to the general public, while others are private enterprises. The word casino is derived from the Italian casa gioco, meaning “house of games.”

Casinos are designed to appeal to all of the senses. The bright lights and noises are meant to be exciting and enticing. Gamblers are encouraged to shout encouragement, and alcoholic beverages are served freely to players at the tables. There are usually no clocks visible on the walls, as it is believed that seeing a timepiece might distract gamblers from their activities.

During the 1990s, casinos dramatically increased their use of technology. For example, in a device called a chip tracker, each betting chip is electronically monitored minute-by-minute so that the casino can quickly detect any statistical deviation from its expected value; and roulette wheels are regularly checked for bias. In the United States, a casino is regulated by state law.

Casinos make much of their money from high-rollers, who gamble in special rooms away from the main casino floor and are often given expensive comps such as free hotel suites and meals. In addition, some casinos have loyalty programs that offer perks to regular patrons.