What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping centers and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are also known for hosting live entertainment, such as concerts and stand-up comedy. Other casinos are used for gambling only, such as the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco, a landmark featured in the film Ocean’s Eleven.

In the United States, about 51 million people visited a casino in 2002, according to the American Gaming Association. These figures are domestic, and do not include visits to tribal casinos on American Indian reservations.

The modern casino is a complex enterprise that involves many moving parts. Some casinos specialize in table games, such as blackjack and craps, while others feature slot machines or poker rooms. Still other casinos have more exotic offerings, such as baccarat and roulette. In addition to these traditional casino games, some casinos also host tournaments for card and dice games.

Like other businesses, casinos need to make a profit in order to survive. To this end, they must attract customers and keep them coming back. Casinos have a number of tricks up their sleeves to accomplish this, including free food and drinks and extravagant inducements for big bettors.

Most casino games have a built in advantage for the house, or house edge. This advantage can be very small, sometimes lower than two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by casino patrons. This edge, along with a commission on the sale of video poker chips (known as the “vig”) or a percentage of a player’s bets in other games, is how the casino makes money.

Despite the fact that casino gambling is legal in Nevada, it was difficult for legitimate businessmen to invest in the industry until after organized crime groups had amassed large sums of cash through drug dealing and extortion. Mafia members provided the capital for the first Vegas casinos and later moved on to take sole or partial ownership of some of them.

In addition to the usual amenities such as swimming pools and gyms, many casinos offer luxury offerings such as golf courses and spa services. Some even have branches of New York’s swank Le Cirque restaurant and boutiques featuring Hermes and Chanel. Depending on the location, a visit to a casino can be an expensive proposition, but it can also be an unforgettable experience. Casinos can’t control what their patrons do outside the premises, of course, but they try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. As such, they spend a lot of time and money on security. This includes everything from armed guards to surveillance cameras. The routines of casino game play and the way that players react to them follow certain patterns, making it easier for security personnel to spot anything out of the ordinary. Casinos are not for everyone, of course, and those who cannot control their gambling urges should avoid them at all costs.