What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building or room used for social amusements, especially gambling. The word casino is derived from the Latin for “house of games.” Until the late 1970s, most American states did not allow gambling. When New Jersey permitted it in 1989, a wave of legalization followed. Today there are casinos in nearly every state.

Casinos are designed to appeal to the senses of sight, sound, and touch. Colorful floor and wall coverings can be stimulating, and the cling clang noise of coins dropping is designed to distract patrons from their surroundings and to make them lose track of time. Many casinos feature clocks in the lobby and on the gaming floor, but they are often not visible to gamblers because they are behind glass or framed against walls. Gamblers are encouraged to gamble by offering free meals, drinks, and shows. In addition, they can earn comps, or points redeemable for cash, for frequent patronage.

Among the most popular games, slots attract the greatest numbers of players. According to a report by Gemini Research, in March 2002, fifty percent of respondents who acknowledged participation in casino gambling said slot machines were their favorite. Card games, like blackjack and poker, ranked second. Other popular games included bingo and keno, but table games such as roulette and craps and sports/racing betting drew only a small percentage of participants.

Due to the large amount of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. Therefore, most casinos have security measures in place to deter such activities. These include video cameras throughout the facility and technology that can monitor game play minute-by-minute; for example, in some games, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to interact with computer systems to oversee the total amounts wagered and warn of any statistical anomalies.