What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building or room where people can gamble on games of chance. The games usually involve a mixture of chance and skill, although some have an element of strategy. Some casinos also offer restaurants and stage shows. Casinos make money by charging patrons to play. The house edge—the casino’s mathematical advantage over the player—can be quite small, sometimes less than two percent for a particular game. This income, which is called the vig or rake, allows casinos to build lavish hotels, fountains, giant pyramids and towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

Most modern casinos use sophisticated technology to monitor patrons and the games themselves. Casinos routinely track and verify the amounts of chips placed, with special systems for poker that record each player’s wagers minute by minute; electronic monitors watch each roulette wheel to discover any statistical deviations from their expected values; and computerized slot machines regularly report payouts.

While casinos use advanced technologies to control the flow of money, they still rely on luck and customer demand. They often hire high-profile celebrities to promote their establishments and host entertainment events. They also encourage gamblers to return frequently, offering free drinks and merchandise in a process known as “comping.”

Although many casinos provide luxurious facilities, they are not required by law to do so. And while they do generate significant revenue, critics argue that they detract from other forms of local entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gambling addictions negates any positive economic impact from the casino.