What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. The word is derived from the Latin for “house of games,” but nowadays casinos also feature restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract patrons. Traditionally, many casinos were private clubs, but the modern ones often include a wide range of public games of chance, from roulette and craps to blackjack and video poker. Some have traditional Far Eastern games, such as sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos in the 1990s) or fan-tan.

Most casinos are upscale places with high ceilings, elegant decor and lots of lights. The Bellagio in Las Vegas, for example, is famous for its dancing fountains and has become an icon of luxury, even appearing as a setting in the movie Ocean’s 11. Many smaller casinos have more modest interiors. A casino’s security is ensured by cameras and other technological means, as well as the fact that there are always rules governing what a player can or cannot do at a table.

Most casinos offer comps to their customers, a term that refers to free or discounted food and drinks, show tickets, hotel rooms and slot play. In exchange for their patronage, the casinos track the gamblers’ activity and tally up points they can use to buy these items. They also keep a database of the patrons’ spending habits for mail marketing purposes and to identify trends in game preference. In addition, some casinos are known for their limo and airline ticket programs.