What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility where people can gamble by playing games of chance or skill. These games include blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, baccarat, and slots. Some casinos also offer sports betting and horse racing. Casinos generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, benefiting private owners, investment firms, and local governments. The Las Vegas valley has the largest concentration of casinos in the United States. Other areas with large numbers of casinos include Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Chicago, Illinois. In addition to gambling, casinos often feature top-notch hotels and spas, restaurants, and live entertainment.

In 2005, the average casino patron was a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above-average income. This demographic accounted for 23% of all casino gamblers, according to Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel. Casinos have several security measures in place to prevent cheating by players and employees. These include the use of security cameras, specially trained pit bosses and table managers, and strict rules about how cards are handled. In poker, for example, players must keep their hands visible at all times.

Casinos are a popular destination for organized crime members because they provide them with a safe haven from the law, an escape route from extortion and other illegal rackets, and a way to launder money. Mafia figures such as Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky brought mafia capital to the casinos of Reno and Las Vegas, where they built their empires. Because of their shady past, however, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos and largely left the business to mob leaders.