What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that houses a wide variety of games of chance and skill. It is often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops and other tourist attractions. Casinos are usually built near water and are designed around noise, light, and excitement.

While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels help draw in customers, casinos would not exist without the games of chance on which they are built. The games of chance (slot machines, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and craps) provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.

Most casino games have a mathematically determined house edge for the casino that is uniformly negative, irrespective of how well a player plays. This edge is sometimes referred to as the “vig” or the rake. A small percentage of each bet is taken by the house, but over time this amounts to a substantial income. Casinos also earn money from the sale of complimentary items to gamblers, a practice known as “comping.”

Although casinos are most associated with Las Vegas and Atlantic City, they can be found in other places throughout the world. Many American Indian reservations have casinos, and several European countries allow them. In the United States, there are more than 3,000 legal casinos and gambling establishments.

In the past, organized crime figures provided the capital to launch many casinos. The mobsters were attracted to the potential for large profits, and their influence over operations was far-reaching. The mob even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and manipulated their outcomes. Nowadays, casinos rely on other sources of funding. Some economic studies show that casino revenue shifts spending away from other forms of entertainment and can create serious addiction problems among gambling patrons.