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What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Casinos have many extras — like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows — to attract visitors but they wouldn’t exist without games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games provide the billions in profits raked in by casinos each year.

The etymology of the word casino is unclear but it seems to be related to the word for “place.” Early casinos were simply places where people could play primitive card games and other games that relied on luck. The word later came to denote a large building with several rooms where people played these games. The first modern casinos were built in the 1970s and ’80s in Atlantic City and on American Indian reservations that are not subject to state anti-gambling laws. During the 1990s, casinos expanded into East Asia and Latin America.

Modern casinos are much more elaborate than those of the past, with dozens of tables and thousands of slot machines. They are staffed with security personnel that patrols the casino floor looking for cheating and other violations of the rules. Elaborate surveillance systems use catwalks extending from the ceiling to allow security workers to look down on the activity of each table through one-way glass.

Something about gambling (maybe the presence of large amounts of money) encourages some patrons to cheat or try to steal. While the majority of patrons are honest, this does create a risk that a small percentage will be unable to control their gambling habits. Some casinos try to offset this risk by offering compulsive gamblers therapy or other addiction treatment.