What Makes a Casino?



The casino, from the Latin for “house,” is a place to bet on games of chance and (sometimes) skill. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shops and lavish hotels may help lure patrons, but the billions of dollars in profits generated by gaming machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are what make casinos possible.

Casinos are legal in most countries and are often combined with hotel, restaurants and other entertainment venues. Some are owned by governments, while others are privately operated. In addition to the traditional games of chance, most modern casinos offer sports betting and other forms of gambling. Some are even equipped with their own race tracks and keno lounges.

In games where the house has a statistical advantage over players, such as blackjack and video poker, the casino earns money through a commission, known as the rake. Some games have a small element of skill, but this is rarely enough to offset the house’s edge.

Aside from the obvious glitz and glamour, many modern casinos feature high-tech surveillance systems. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, for instance, has a high-definition eye-in-the-sky, which allows security personnel to watch every table and slot machine through one-way mirrors. This system can be directed to focus on suspicious patrons by workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors. Similarly, Caesars Palace has cameras on the ceiling that can be adjusted to concentrate on specific areas.