What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment where customers gamble by playing games of chance (and sometimes skill) for cash or credit. In the United States casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. In addition to traditional gaming rooms, some casinos feature entertainment and dining venues.

While lighted fountains, musical shows and lavish hotels help lure in the crowds, casinos wouldn’t exist without their core business: gambling. Slot machines and table games like blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat bring in billions of dollars for casinos each year. But each game has a built-in statistical advantage for the house, which can be lower than two percent or as high as five percent. That advantage, known as the vig or rake, covers the cost of staff, building maintenance and expensive attractions like pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

In a casino, security is a priority. Players are escorted to their tables by a casino employee and given a card that must be swiped at the entrance and again when they leave. These cards track patrons’ gambling and spending habits and tally up comps like free meals, drinks and shows.

Casinos are also a major source of revenue for the cities and states where they’re located. However, critics argue that casino profits divert spending from other forms of local entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gamblers offsets any economic benefits.