What Is a Casino?


A casino (or gaming house) is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Generally, these places offer drinks, food and entertainment. Some casinos are very large and resemble Las Vegas-style strip hotels, while others are smaller and more intimate. In the United States, more than 30 states have legalized casinos, although most of them are located in Nevada and Atlantic City. Many casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants or other attractions.

Gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. However, the modern casino as a central gathering place for gambling activities did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles began hosting private parties at their homes called ridotti where games of chance were played.

Casinos have long focused on customer service, offering perks such as free drinks and all-you-can-eat buffets to encourage players to spend more money. A player’s “comp” (complimentary) status is determined by how much he or she plays and how long he or she stays at the table or slot machine. The best comps include free hotel rooms, dinners and tickets to shows. Some casinos also provide limo service and airline tickets to big-spending players.

The popularity of casinos has grown to the point where some cities are defined by their casino scene. Las Vegas is the most famous, but there are other casino destinations as well. The Bellagio in Las Vegas, for instance, is known for its floor shows and lavish amenities, such as a branch of New York’s upscale Le Cirque restaurant and Hermes and Chanel boutiques.

Most modern casinos are regulated by state laws and must meet certain standards. They are staffed with people trained to spot cheating and other violations. In addition, casino security personnel patrol the floor to watch for suspicious behavior and to make sure that patrons are paying attention to the game they’re playing.

While casinos are designed to attract people from all walks of life, the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old woman who lives in a household with above-average income and has at least some vacation time available. This group accounts for the largest percentage of casino gambling revenue, according to a 2005 study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS. The study also found that most casino patrons are regulars, playing their favorite game regularly and spending an average of five hours at the casino each week. The survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 2,000 adult Americans and a mail questionnaire to 100,000 adults. The National Profile Study included a sampling of people who visited a casino within the past year and the U.S. Gaming Panel sampled people who lived within 50 miles of a casino. The study’s methodology is described in the full report. The full report is available at the Roper Reports GfK NOP Web site.