What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may be integrated with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos also operate as standalone entertainment venues. The term may also refer to a specialized department within a larger casino, such as a sports book or race track. Modern casinos are usually divided into a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, known as the eye in the sky.

The first government-sanctioned casino opened in 1638 in Venice, Italy. It was called the Ridotto and was a four-story gambling house with primitive games of chance and primitive foods and drinks served to the players. The casino was a huge success and its name became synonymous with gambling throughout Europe.

Casinos make their profits by charging fees or a percentage of the money that customers win, or a combination of both. These are sometimes called rakes or vigs. Some casinos give out free goods or services to players called comps. These may include rooms, meals, show tickets or even airline tickets.

Because of the large amount of cash handled, casinos are vulnerable to theft and cheating by both patrons and staff, in collusion or independently. Because of this, casinos are equipped with numerous security measures such as cameras in every room and on the floor, and windows are seldom used. Clocks are also rarely seen, and lighting is minimal so gamblers can lose track of time and not realize how long they have been playing. Some casinos use an elaborate system of catwalks positioned over the tables and slot machines that allow surveillance personnel to look down through one-way glass at all activities on the gaming floors below.