What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling hall or gaming house, is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. Almost every state has laws regulating the operation of casinos. Some states prohibit gambling altogether, while others endorse it to some extent. Some American casinos are built on Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws.

In the twentieth century, casinos grew in size and sophistication. Many featured hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms, swimming pools, and spas. Moreover, they had elaborate security systems and offered complimentary items to gamblers (known as “comps”). Casinos aimed to attract high rollers—gamblers who spend a large amount of money. To attract them, the casinos developed special rooms, away from the main floor, where they could gamble with much larger stakes—in some cases in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The games themselves are mostly luck-based, although there is some skill in card games like poker. The casino’s mathematically determined odds give the institution an advantage over the players, which is called the “house edge.” Some games, such as roulette, have a greater house edge than others.

Something about casinos seems to encourage cheating and stealing. Perhaps it’s the large amounts of money involved, or maybe just the excitement of trying to beat the odds. In any event, casino security is a top priority. Casinos usually employ a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that monitors the casino’s closed circuit television system, known as the “eye in the sky.” The security personnel are trained to recognize suspicious behavior and to respond quickly to calls for help or reports of criminal activity.