A casino, also known as a gaming hall or card room, is a place where gambling activities take place. The etymology of the word is uncertain, but it has long been associated with pleasure and entertainment. Modern casinos add a variety of amenities and features to the traditional gambling experience, including hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms, bars, swimming pools and spas. Some are even home to a number of the world’s biggest poker events and games.
While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in customers, the vast majority of a casino’s profits (and fun) come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and keno are the games that provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year.
Many casinos employ security measures to prevent cheating and theft by both patrons and employees. These may include video cameras, which are used to monitor betting patterns and to discover any statistical deviation from expected results; “chip tracking,” in which casino chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows for instant monitoring of the exact amount wagered on each spin; and electronic auditing systems that compare actual casino results to mathematically determined ideal ones.
In the past, mob money provided a lot of the cash that helped make casinos famous. But federal crackdowns and the fear of losing a casino license at even the faintest hint of mob involvement forced legitimate businessmen to get into the game. As a result, some of today’s largest casinos are owned by hotel chains and real estate investors with deep pockets.