What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment where people gamble cash or other monetary items on random events. Usually, these games are conducted by live dealers on tables like blackjack or roulette or, as with video poker machines, by pressing buttons. In some cases, players can even compete against each other.

Table games such as baccarat (in the form of chemin de fer in America and trente et quarante in France) and blackjack are the principal gambling offerings at casinos, although most offer other card games as well. Most casinos also feature a selection of video and slot machines, whose revenue comes from high-volume play at low stakes. Some casinos have special areas where slot machine players can compete in tournaments for large prizes.

Security is a major concern in a casino. Staff members keep close tabs on patrons to make sure no one is stealing money from the table or trying to cheat, and they use video surveillance to spot any suspicious activity. Casinos employ a variety of techniques to monitor and control their games, including “chip tracking,” where the chips have built-in microcircuitry that lets the casino oversee the amounts wagered minute by minute; electronic systems at blackjack tables to ensure that patrons aren’t marking or switching cards; and roulette wheels electronically monitored for any statistical deviations from expected results.

During the Mob’s heyday in Reno and Las Vegas, mafia members were involved in every aspect of casino operations and took sole or partial ownership of many of them. As federal prosecutions became more common, the mob gave up its involvement in casinos, and legitimate investors with deep pockets bought them out. As a result, casinos have been transformed into elaborate entertainment venues, featuring musical shows, lighted fountains and replicas of famous pyramids and towers.