What is a Casino?


Casino (plural casinos) is a large building in which people can gamble and play games of chance. The word is derived from the Latin cazino, which means “to chance.” Gambling is a popular pastime in many cultures around the world.

While some games in a casino do involve a degree of skill, the vast majority are purely random. This ensures that the house always wins in the long run, even if individual players win or lose. The mathematical advantage the house has over players is called the house edge, and it can be calculated for most games by examining their odds.

Most casinos specialize in a few popular games, especially blackjack, craps, and video poker. Some feature exotic games from other parts of the world, such as sic bo (a Chinese game that spread to American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan, and pai-gow. Casinos often reward their best patrons with free goods and services, known as comps. These can include free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows, and other perks. Players can request a comp rating by speaking with a casino employee or visiting the information desk.

Something about gambling seems to encourage cheating, stealing and other types of fraud. As a result, casinos spend a lot of money on security. In the past, organized crime figures owned and ran many casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, and mob-linked banks loaned money to them. But as real estate investors and hotel chains became more involved, mob control waned. Today, casinos are almost universally owned by corporate entities and are largely immune to mob interference.