What Is a Casino?


Casinos are places where people play games of chance for money. The word is derived from the Latin caesare, meaning “wheel of fortune.” Although a casino may contain many other entertainment features, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, it would not exist without games of chance like slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno that provide the billions of dollars in profits casinos make every year.

While the exact origin of gambling is unknown, it is believed to have been present in almost all societies throughout history. From the Mesopotamian city of Susa in modern-day Iraq to aristocratic circles in ancient Rome and Elizabethan England, gambling was a popular pastime. Today, there are more than 3,000 legal casinos in the United States and worldwide.

Modern casinos use a variety of methods to ensure the integrity of their games. Most have security cameras placed throughout the building, and casino staff watch the video feeds constantly. Some casinos also have gaming tables with built-in microcircuitry that allows them to monitor betting chips minute-by-minute, while others electronically monitor the results of roulette wheels and other games to detect any statistical deviation from expected outcomes.

Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff members may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. To prevent this, most casinos have a dedicated security force and specialized surveillance departments that work closely together.