What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. The term is usually applied to commercial establishments that offer gaming activities and related services, but it may also describe smaller places that house gambling activities only. Casinos often add a variety of luxuries to attract patrons, including restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But even when stripping away the glitz and glamour, casinos are really just a collection of games of chance.

Successful casinos bring in billions of dollars a year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that operate them. But critics argue that the casinos shift spending away from other local entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gambling addicts more than offsets any economic benefits they bring to a community.

In addition to security measures like cameras and guards, many casinos rely on technology to monitor their operations. In table games, for instance, betting chips with built-in microcircuitry interact with electronic systems that enable the casino to oversee the exact amounts wagered minute by minute and to quickly detect any statistical deviations from expected results. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored as well, and some casinos have wholly automated versions of the game with no dealers.

Casinos also focus on customer service. They give out complimentary items, known as comps, to frequent players and reward those who spend the most money. The perks can include anything from free hotel rooms to buffet food and show tickets to limo service and airline tickets. These incentives are designed to maximize the number of gamblers and, in turn, the amount of money they wager.