What Is a Casino?


A casino is a public room or building where the playing of certain gambling games, such as roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker, and slot machines, is the primary activity. The term may also refer to an establishment that combines these activities. In the United States, casinos are generally large hotel and entertainment complexes devoted primarily to gambling. Casinos are also common in Native American tribal communities and at some racetracks, which are called racinos. In addition to gambling, most casinos offer dining and entertainment options.

Many people use the word casino to describe a particular gambling establishment, but the Merriam-Webster Dictionary clarifies that the meaning of the phrase is much more broad. A casino, it says, is a “building or room in which social amusements, especially gambling, are carried on.” Many Americans, when they think of a casino, picture the massive resorts that line the Las Vegas Strip. While those casinos are certainly examples of casino, there are also small businesses that operate as casinos and even a few cruise ships that carry the name.

In addition to offering a wide variety of gambling games, casinos often have attractive decorations and atmospheres. In a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association in 2002, 92% of respondents who admitted to casino gambling said that they go to the casinos to have fun. The majority of those who went to casinos did so in the company of family and friends. Many people also reported that they go to the casino to relax and socialize.

Successful casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that own and operate them. They also generate significant revenue for the state and local governments that regulate them. The casino industry is extremely competitive and constantly changing. In an effort to keep gamblers coming back, casinos invest millions of dollars in determining what colors, sounds, and scents will attract them the most.

Casinos are not immune to the effects of economic downturns. In fact, they sometimes suffer from a lack of patrons, particularly in the wake of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They also face the risk of fraud and theft by both patrons and staff members. To reduce these risks, casinos implement a number of security measures. For example, most casinos do not have clocks on the walls because they are believed to distract patrons from gambling. They also use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings to stimulate the senses and make patrons forget about the passing of time.

In order to make up for this potential loss of income, casinos often provide perks and incentives for their patrons. They may offer free shows, discounted travel packages, or even hotel rooms. These perks are designed to encourage gamblers to spend more money at the casino and to reward those who do. In addition, they may have special catwalks in the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look down on the gambling area through one-way glass.