What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for gambling, which may also include a hotel and restaurant. Some casinos are stand alone gambling facilities; others may be part of resorts, hotels or even cruise ships. Several cities have multiple casinos, including Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

In the past, most American casinos were run by organized crime figures, who made good money running them. Mobster money brought a glamour to the business, but government crackdowns and mob infighting reduced their influence over casinos. Real estate investors and hotel chains with deeper pockets bought out the mobsters, and casinos are now operated by legitimate businessmen without the taint of mafia involvement.

As with any business, casinos must make a profit to stay in business. They do so by taking a small percentage of every bet, called the house edge. This can be as low as two percent, but over time it adds up.

To offset the house edge, casinos rely on customer loyalty to drive revenue. They offer perks, called comps, to big spenders to encourage them to gamble more and reward them for their loyalty. These include free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and limo service. Some casinos even offer free airline tickets if enough players are willing to fly to their destination. Casinos also focus on security. Elaborate surveillance systems give casino employees a view of every table, window and doorway from an observation room filled with monitors. This allows employees to spot suspicious patrons, or to watch video feeds of their actions for evidence of cheating, stealing or other criminal activity.