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What Is a Casino?

When most people think of a casino, they envision one of the megaresorts that define the Las Vegas Strip, a dazzling array of neon lights, fun and games. But a casino is much more than that. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a building or room for social amusements, especially gambling.”

Casinos are most often found combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourist attractions. They may also include retail shops, entertainment venues and sports facilities. In some countries, casinos are licensed and regulated by government agencies to ensure that they follow fair play rules.

Something about the large sums of money handled in casinos seems to encourage cheating and stealing by patrons and staff members, whether working in collusion or independently. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security measures. Cameras are the most obvious tool; but more subtle actions by patrons are monitored closely as well. The way the dealer shuffles and deals cards, for example, follows certain patterns that security personnel are trained to recognize.

Another way that casinos encourage gamblers is by offering perks to the most loyal customers. These are known as comps, or complimentary items. They can be free food, drinks, hotel rooms or even tickets to shows. The amount a player spends and the type of game played determines how many comps he or she receives. Some casinos have loyalty programs that reward frequent players with free slot play, while others offer points or credits that can be redeemed for various gifts.