What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers players games of chance. These games include slot machines, table games and card games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. Successful casinos draw in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that own them. They also bring in tax revenue for state and local governments. But while casino glitz, musical shows and shopping centers draw visitors, a casino would not exist without its games of chance.

The history of the casino began with a group of Italians who started meeting in private rooms called ‘casini’ to gamble. By the end of the 1930s, most European countries had changed their laws to permit casino gambling. The United States remained the only country to restrict it until 1990, when Iowa legalized riverboat gambling and a number of other states followed suit.

Today’s modern casinos are sophisticated and highly regulated, with technology that goes far beyond just the games themselves. For instance, electronic systems monitor betting chips with built-in microcircuitry, allowing casinos to oversee exact amounts wagered minute-by-minute and quickly discover any statistical deviation from expected results. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can be directed to focus on specific suspicious patrons by security personnel in a separate room filled with banks of video monitors.

Casinos focus on attracting and keeping customers through perks such as free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and limo service for the big spenders. Many also have loyalty programs that reward regular patrons with points that can be redeemed for cash or prizes.