What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can play a variety of gambling games. Casinos often add other elements to appeal to visitors, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Casinos generate billions in revenue each year for the owners, investors, corporations and Native American tribes that operate them. They also contribute to local economies through taxes, fees and jobs.

Because the amount of money handled within casinos can make patrons and employees tempted to cheat or steal, security is a major concern. Casinos have various measures to protect their assets and patrons. Many have cameras throughout the facility that can be viewed in private rooms by security workers. Security personnel can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious individuals. Casinos also have “chip tracking” systems that link betting chips to computer monitors that record the exact amount wagered minute by minute.

Despite their many security measures, casinos are still attractive targets for organized crime groups. Mob money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas in the 1950s, and gangsters took over some casinos. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos because of their seamy image, so mobsters became involved as partners and even took sole ownership in some cases. Federal crackdowns and the fear of losing a gambling license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement kept legitimate businessmen away from casinos until the 1990s, when hotel chains, real estate developers and other investors realized the potential for huge profits.