What is a Casino?

A casino is a place to gamble and wager money. The games that are played in casinos are regulated by law. Some casinos also feature live entertainment.

Gambling is a huge industry. In the United States alone, about 51 million people — a quarter of all Americans over age 21 — visited a casino in 2002. The number of people who visit casinos worldwide is harder to pin down, but it’s probably at least twice as high.

Casinos vary widely in size and design. Many are opulent and lavish, like the soaring hotel/casino in Macau that resembles a giant birdcage. Others are more modest, ranging from the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden to the strip casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Most casinos offer a variety of gambling options, including slot machines, table games, and card games.

The casino business is highly competitive, and the owners are constantly seeking ways to lure patrons. Big bettors are offered extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment, free transportation, luxury living quarters, and even private planes to fly them to and from the casino. Lesser bettors are enticed with reduced-fare transportation, free drinks and snacks while they gamble, and discounts on room rates.

Security is paramount in any casino. Besides employing hundreds of dealers and pit bosses who watch over the various game tables, casinos use sophisticated technology to supervise the games themselves. Video cameras keep an eye on the games, and electronic systems monitor and record betting patterns to discover cheating or tampering. Moreover, tables are often marked with special symbols or colors that signal certain violations.