What Is a Casino?


The word casino comes from the Latin cazino, meaning “little house.” A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance—and sometimes skill. It can be a massive resort like the Las Vegas Valley’s Casino Lisboa or a small card room, and it can include hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms and other amenities for patrons to enjoy.

Gambling in some form has existed throughout history, and casinos are among the most popular forms of gambling. They bring in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that operate them. They also provide jobs and tax revenues for local communities.

Something about casinos—maybe the fact that they offer large amounts of money—seems to encourage people to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other patrons or independently. For this reason, casinos spend a lot of time and money on security measures. Casino security starts with casino employees watching over patrons and the games they play. Dealers can easily spot blatant cheating (palming, marking or switching cards, for example), and pit bosses can watch over table games to see if players are stealing from each other. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky,” with cameras monitoring every table, window and doorway and able to focus on particular suspicious patrons.

Then there are the less obvious security measures. Casinos use bright and often gaudy floor and wall coverings that are designed to make people lose track of time, and they don’t put clocks on the walls. They also have certain patterns for shuffles and dealing, and expect gamblers to follow them.