What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide range of games of chance for money. It is often associated with flashing lights, free drinks and stage shows. A casino also provides hotel rooms, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms and bars, and many have swimming pools, spas and other luxury amenities. Some of the largest casinos in the world are located in Las Vegas, Macau and London.

A modern casino is typically patrolled by a physical security force and monitored by a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television (CCTV) systems throughout the facility. Security personnel may be trained to spot suspicious or definite criminal activity by observing patterns of behavior among players at various tables and slot machines. In addition, some casinos feature catwalks in the ceiling above the gaming floor that allow security personnel to look directly down on players from one way glass.

Despite the glitz and glamour, a casino is designed to slowly drain its patrons of their hard-earned cash. The mathematically inclined have tried for years to take advantage of this design, using their knowledge of probability and game theory to beat the rigged system.

In 2002, according to the American Gaming Association, about 51 million people—a group equivalent to roughly a quarter of the country’s population over 21—visited a casino. Although that number does not include people who visited illegal pai gow parlors and other such places, the figure indicates that casinos are popular destinations for everyone from your grandmother taking a weekend bus trip to Atlantic City to professional gamblers flying in for high-stakes competitions.

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