What Is a Casino?


A casino is a public place where games of chance are played. While a casino may add other luxuries to appeal to customers (such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery), the billions of dollars in profits made by casinos come primarily from gambling activities. Casino-type game machines can also be found at racetracks, truck stops and bars as well as in Las Vegas-style gaming rooms.

Casinos attract gamblers by offering perks designed to encourage them to spend more money than they intend to, or would otherwise spend. These perks include discounted travel packages, cheap hotel rooms, free meals and show tickets. A casino’s staff also tries to spot cheating or suspicious activity by following certain patterns: the way a dealer shuffles cards and deals them; the expected reactions and motions of patrons at a table; and betting patterns that could indicate cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems can provide an “eye-in-the-sky” view of every table, slot machine and window through banks of cameras.

Most casino gambling is based on chance, though some games involve an element of skill. In any case, the house has a mathematical advantage over the players, which is called the house edge. The casino also takes a cut of winnings, or rake, from games such as poker and blackjack where players bet against each other. Many casinos reduce the edge for high rollers, who can generate a significant share of profits. Gambling addictions, however, can reverse any economic gains casinos might generate.