Language of the Casino

How casino language and terms differs in various parts of the world

When it comes to playing casinos across the world, there are a few language barriers that you may need to overcome. Although English is the universal business language of the world, and most dealers should be relatively bi-lingual, there may be a few terms that you will need to pick up on the way. Even the root of the word casino is of Italian origin, rooted from the word 'casa' for house, and evolving into addressing a house for social gathering - not necessarily a gambling house. There are few different ways that you can learn about the different terms in the casino such as by using guides, or the Ladbrokes Casino Periodic Table, in order to help you to gain some knowledge before you head to any casino. Knowing certain terms in different countries can really help you on your way around the casinos in the world.

Casino image

Japanese 'Casinos'

When it comes to Japan gambling is deemed to be illegal, both online and offline - at least for the time being. However, they do have their own forms of entertainment, the most popular being pachinko. Pachinko began as type of pinball game that was played to win amusements and prizes as a form of gambling, rather than winning money. This is a fun pastime in the country, and if you're looking for a form of gambling-like play while you're in the country then you should look to Japanese pachinko parlors. Pachinko isn't found to the same extent in any other country, and is essentially unique to Japan. Pachinko gambling is also a very big money business.

Other forms of gambling that are legal and take place in Japan include the national lottery (Takarakuji), horse racing (keiba), soccer toto and public sports. Betting with toto has become extremely popular particularly as the J-League has risen in prominence over the years. Toto, although heard of in other Asian countries, is a term that may be heard predominantly in Japan, but not as often in other countries depending on their gambling regulations. Betting with toto offers Japanese people jackpot opportunities through the football and number draws.

Mahjong Sign

Mahjong parlor

The street sign (left) and interior of a typical urban mahjong parlor.

Mahjong parlors are also popular as a form of gambling in Japan. In the country, they are known as Jansou and operate within a relatively grey area in Japanese gambling law. Free mahjong has adopted rules like awarding/taking an amount of chips known as shuggi - a term that isn't really used throughout the rest of the world. This is not necessarily an exception to the gambling laws in the country, but finds loopholes and avoids regulations which other forms of gambling are affected by, and is a popular social game.


Although languages and terms are quite similar, there are a few terms that you might want to avoid when you're playing in China. The number 4 is deemed to be very unlucky, as it sounds similar to the word for death in mandarin Chinese (as it does in Japanese). This is one of the reasons why some of the Las Vegas hotel casinos miss floor numbers that start with 4. Knowing little traditions and superstitions about certain keywords in China is exceptionally important, so you don't upset any native Chinese gamblers when you're in Macau. The number 4 superstition is also prevalent in Japan and other Asian countries, as is the superstition that the number 8 is lucky, because it sounds similar to a word that means prosperity.


When it comes to gambling in Europe, many casino terms have generated here so some countries may be a little more unwilling to move away from these terms. Many terms are of Spanish, French and Italian origin, and some come with different meanings than others. Baccarat is a prime example of games where some casinos in the country may want to use their own language. For example, although baccarat is the name of the game in France, in Italy it is called baccara. The banker is also called something slightly different in some countries, with banco being the Spanish word for the banker.

In France, there are also some other casino terms, such as carte, which is essentially the French way of saying 'hit me' and requesting that a card is dealt. Some forms of baccarat are known as punto banco, and this is commonly used in many European casinos. Punto is the Spanish and Italian word for point and is also used as a slang term for a baccarat player. Other slang includes the French term Le Grande for a natural total of 9.

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