What Is a Casino?

In its simplest form, a casino is simply a place where people can gamble. While many casinos feature stage shows, dramatic scenery and other extras to attract customers, they would be nothing without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and other popular games provide the billions of dollars in profits that make casinos possible.

Modern casinos have two main types of security departments: a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The former patrols the premises and responds to calls for help or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity, while the latter operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, commonly known as the “eye in the sky.” These specialized departments work closely together, and their close interaction makes them highly effective at preventing crime.

Casinos make money by imposing an advantage on each game they offer, which can range from less than one percent to more than two percent. This profit is known as the vig, and it is the source of the huge sums of money that a successful casino can generate in a short period of time. This large income has enabled the casinos to build elaborate hotels, fountains and replicas of famous landmarks.

While legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved with gambling, which had a seamy image and was illegal in every other state except Nevada for decades, organized crime figures were eager to provide the capital needed to open and operate casinos. Mobster money gave casinos a solid financial base and fueled their rapid growth in Reno and Las Vegas.