What is a Casino?

The etymology of the word casino is interesting. It originally pointed to a villa or summer house, or a social club. But over time it came to mean a gaming room or gambling establishment, and then more generally any place where games of chance were played.

In modern times, casinos have become entertainment centers with restaurants, bars, shows and other attractions. They can be found in a number of places, including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Chicago, as well as on American Indian reservations, where state antigambling laws do not apply.

Casinos are businesses, and they must make a profit to stay in business. Each game has a built in statistical advantage for the casino, and over millions of bets that edge can add up to a considerable gross profit. Casinos earn this money through the vig, or rake, which is a percentage of all bets placed. Big bettors, particularly those who win consistently, are often given extravagant inducements in the form of free spectacular entertainment, luxury hotel rooms, transportation and food.

Because large amounts of money change hands within a casino, cheating and theft are fairly common in many casinos. Security personnel watch the patrons and games closely for signs of either, and they can spot a lot of things that might not be obvious to the average casino visitor. Casinos also use a variety of technological devices to assist them in this effort. For example, ‘chip tracking’ allows casinos to oversee betting chips minute-by-minute and quickly detect any deviation from expected results; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored for anomalies.