What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of games that require chance and skill. They include card games like poker, table games like baccarat and blackjack, and dice games like craps. Some casinos also offer video poker, keno and bingo. In addition to the games, casinos often have restaurants and bars, a spa and other amenities that attract people who want to gamble and enjoy other forms of entertainment.

Something about the nature of gambling encourages people to cheat and steal, either in collusion or independently; that’s why casinos spend so much money on security. They have to monitor huge amounts of cash in the form of chips, and they must keep an eye on patrons as they play to spot any suspicious behavior. Casinos are also highly automated, and they use sophisticated systems to oversee their operations. For example, a casino’s betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to enable them to track the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute and warn staff immediately of any statistical deviations from expected results.

Despite these formidable obstacles, casinos have grown rapidly in popularity. They draw millions of visitors a year to Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other gaming destinations across the country. Legitimate businessmen, including real estate investors and hotel chains, realized the potential profits from casinos and began to purchase and operate them. They outlasted the mobsters, whose huge cash flow was dwarfed by their criminal enterprises (like drug dealing and extortion). Today, mob money still flows into Reno and Las Vegas, but federal crackdowns on organized crime activity and the prospect of losing a license at the slightest whiff of mob involvement mean that casinos must rely more on tourist dollars than ever before.