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What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is an establishment where people pay to wager on various games of chance. Many casinos also offer other entertainment, such as stage shows and food service. Casinos may be located in cities, tourist destinations, or even on cruise ships. Some casinos specialize in specific types of games, such as craps or roulette, while others may have a wide variety of games and special features, like an extensive snack bar.

Modern casinos are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, and other attractions. This creates an integrated entertainment complex that appeals to a broad range of customers. In addition to gaming, some casinos host live entertainment events such as concerts and stand-up comedy.

Casinos have a long and varied history. From miners grabbing a quick poker game during lunch breaks in the desert to the massive casino resorts of Las Vegas, they have always been a popular destination for those who enjoy gambling.

The early casinos were largely run by organized crime groups. But as real estate investors and hotel chains got into the business, they could afford to buy out the mobsters. Mob influence faded as the casinos became more legitimate and federal crackdowns made it difficult for them to operate without a license.

Today’s casinos are heavily reliant on technology for both security and customer service. Most modern casinos have a physical security force and a specialized department that operates the closed circuit television system, or “eye in the sky.” These departments work together to keep out criminals and make sure patrons are safe.

But casinos also use technology to help them spot cheats and other suspicious activity. Tables are equipped with electronic systems that monitor the amount of money wagered minute by minute and warn the dealers if any unusual patterns develop; slot machines are wired to a central computer that tracks each spin and signals any statistical deviations. And in the more sophisticated casinos, there are catwalks suspended from the ceiling above the gaming floor that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down on the tables and slot machines through one-way glass.

The average casino patron is a forty-six-year-old female who is married and has children. She lives in a two-bedroom house and earns more than $100,000 a year. Her favorite pastime is playing poker. According to a 2005 study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS, more women than men visit casinos and they are more likely to play video poker and other electronic games. They are less likely to gamble on the sports books or the racetracks. But they are more likely to take weekend bus trips to the nearest casino with friends. In fact, 24% of American adults had visited a casino in 2008.