What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gaming hall or a gambling establishment, is a building or room where people can play games of chance for money. The term may also refer to a group of such buildings. Typically, a casino features a variety of games, such as poker, blackjack, and roulette, and provides an environment where players can socialize. Casinos are also known for offering perks to their customers, such as food and beverages.

Casinos use mathematically determined odds to ensure that the house always has an advantage over the players. This advantage is called the house edge or, more accurately, the expected value of a bet. Despite this, skillful play can lower the house edge significantly; this is called basic strategy. Casinos make money by charging a commission on games of chance, such as poker, and by taking a percentage of the winnings in games where players compete against each other, such as blackjack.

In the United States, casinos are regulated by state laws. During the 1980s, many American states amended their gambling laws to permit casinos, often on Indian reservations. In addition, some casinos operate on cruise ships.

Modern casinos are highly regulated and use a range of technologies to monitor activities. For example, in some casinos, bets are placed with chips that have built-in microcircuitry; these communicate with the betting system to track and verify bets minute by minute. In addition, casino floors are wired to allow surveillance cameras to spot suspicious activity. Statistical deviations from expected outcomes are often detected by computers that compare game results to patterns in past data.