What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. The term casino also applies to establishments that add a host of luxuries and entertainment options, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. The most famous casinos are located in Las Vegas, but there are plenty of smaller operations that serve a local or regional audience. In addition, there are a growing number of Native American casinos. Successful casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that operate them. They also provide jobs and tax revenue for local governments.

Casinos must be designed to deter patrons from cheating and stealing. Security staffers are trained to spot blatant patterns, such as how dealers shuffle cards and where players place their bets. In addition, elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can watch every table, window and doorway.

Some critics charge that the net effect of casinos is negative, because they draw money away from other forms of entertainment and reduce employment opportunities. They also point to studies showing that compulsive gamblers drain casinos of a disproportionate share of their profits. These devoted customers, however, do not represent the majority of casino patrons. Rather, the majority are older people with above-average incomes who enjoy gambling for recreation. Their spending habits make them a key audience for marketing purposes. Many casinos target this group by offering them free items or comps.