What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment, a place where people play games of chance for money. Casinos can range from massive resorts to small card rooms. In the United States, casinos make billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and employees that operate them. Local and state governments also benefit from the tax revenues they generate. In addition to gambling, casinos often have restaurants, shops, and other amenities.

Some casinos use elaborate stage shows and dramatic scenery to lure gamblers. Others focus on customer service and offer perks like free drinks, food, and transportation to encourage patrons to spend more money. For example, in the 1970s, Las Vegas casinos gave away cheap travel packages and free show tickets to attract high-stakes gamblers. These high rollers accounted for the majority of a casino’s revenue, so they received extravagant inducements in return.

In general, all casino games have a built in house advantage (sometimes called the “vig”), which means that over time the house will win. The vig is usually lower than two percent, but it can vary depending on the game. Casinos also collect a commission from players who play games against each other, such as poker, by taking a percentage of their winnings (called the rake).

Because large amounts of cash are handled within casinos, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal. For this reason, casinos have extensive security measures. Many casinos have cameras throughout the facility that can be monitored remotely. Some even have catwalks that allow security personnel to look down on tables and slot machines through one-way glass.