A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons gamble by playing games of chance. These games, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and poker, provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in each year. A casino can also feature a variety of other entertainment options, such as musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers.
In addition to the traditional table games like baccarat, chemin de fer, and blackjack, casinos offer video poker. Craps and keno are also popular dice games. Some casinos also offer a variety of Asian games, such as sic bo and fan-tan.
Modern casinos are highly automated and technologically sophisticated, often using computerized systems to supervise the games themselves. For example, in a technique called chip tracking, betting chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems on the tables to allow casinos to oversee the exact amounts wagered minute by minute and warn them of any suspicious activity. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored to detect statistical deviations from the expected results.
As a result of the large sums of money handled within their walls, many casinos have elaborate security measures to prevent cheating and stealing by patrons and employees. Typical security features include security cameras that monitor the entire casino at once, allowing the staff to focus on suspicious individuals. Some casinos also have special rooms where security workers watch surveillance tapes.
A casino’s security measures can be costly, however. For example, the sophisticated technology used to monitor games and gamblers may raise the cost of maintenance and labor. Additionally, compulsive gambling can harm the economy of a casino’s host community by redirecting spending from other forms of local entertainment and reducing productivity.
The word casino derives from the Latin kasino, meaning “house of games.” The first casinos were modest buildings where wealthy Europeans could play cards and other card games. In the mid-twentieth century, European countries began to liberalize their gambling laws, and new types of casinos opened in cities such as Monte Carlo and Cannes. The United States legalized casino gambling in the 1990s, and by the 2000s, there were about 1,000 of them across the country.
Casinos are a major source of revenue for many cities and states. In the United States, Las Vegas is the largest casino market, followed by Atlantic City and Chicago. Other big gaming centers are located in Biloxi, Mississippi; Reno, Nevada; and Winchester, Virginia. Many cities and towns have smaller casinos.
In addition to gaming facilities, many casinos have restaurants and bars, as well as shopping and other amenities for their guests. Some also have entertainment venues that feature pop, rock, jazz, and other musical acts. These non-gambling activities help casinos attract customers and compete with other forms of recreation. They also can offset the negative impact of gambling on local economies by bringing in people who might not otherwise visit. The casino industry is controversial, and critics point out that it is a drain on public finances because of the money lost by addicted gamblers.