What Is a Casino?


When most Americans hear the word casino, they envision a Las Vegas megaresort brimming with neon lights and fun. But casinos are much more than a place to gamble; they’re also restaurants, retail shops, entertainment venues and even cruise ships.

The word casino is derived from the Latin word casino, which means “house of games.” During the second half of the nineteenth century, European casinos became popular and began spreading across the world. Today, there are over 500 casinos worldwide. Some are operated by large commercial companies; others are owned and operated by Native American tribes. In the United States, there are over 90 casino-resorts and more than 200 racetracks.

There are three general categories of casino games: gaming machines, table games, and random number games. Gaming machines, such as slot machines, are played by one player at a time and do not require the involvement of casino employees. Table games, such as blackjack and craps, are governed by casino employees known as croupiers, and involve competition against the house. Random number games, such as roulette and baccarat, use randomly selected numbers.

In the modern era, many casinos utilize technological tools to prevent cheating and theft by patrons and staff. Security cameras are a common sight, and computerized systems monitor tables and slots to discover any suspicious activity. In addition, casinos often host frequent-flyer programs in which gamblers swipe cards to earn rewards, such as free meals or rooms.