What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance or, in some cases, skill. It is a large and often extravagant place that offers food, drink and entertainment to its patrons. Most casinos feature a wide variety of gambling activities, but some have a more focused or eclectic clientele than others. Some have hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms and bars. Some casinos even offer limo service and airline tickets to high-stakes bettors as part of their incentive programs.

In 2002, according to the American Gaming Association, about 51 million Americans—roughly a quarter of those over 21—visited a casino. The majority of these were in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, with a smaller number in Chicago, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; and other locales.

Casinos are regulated by the laws of the country in which they operate. In addition to the physical security force, they usually have a specialized surveillance department that operates closed-circuit television (CCTV). Casinos also employ many other electronic devices in an attempt to prevent cheating and stealing by patrons or casino employees.

The first known casino was in the Italian city of Monte-Carlo, which opened in 1863. It was designed by Charles Garnier, who also designed the Paris opera house. The casino has been a source of income for the principality of Monaco ever since. Its elegance and beauty has made it a popular film location for James Bond movies. The word “casino” is thought to have come from the Italian word for a small meeting place for music and dancing, or from the French, meaning little room.

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