What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance. While casinos add luxuries such as stage shows, restaurants and lighted fountains to attract patrons, they are primarily places where people bet on games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and poker. While casinos earn billions in profits every year, they are often criticized for encouraging addiction and bad behavior.

Most casino games have a mathematical advantage for the house, known as the house edge. This edge can be as low as two percent, but it is enough to generate substantial annual profits. In games where skill plays a role, such as blackjack and video poker, the casino takes a commission from players called a rake.

The word casino is a French term meaning “public hall.” It is thought that the public hall was originally used for music and dancing, but it became more common to use it for gambling in the second half of the 19th century. Casinos are located in many cities and states, including the popular Las Vegas strip. They can be found on land, in cruise ships and on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws.

Gambling has long been illegal in most of the United States, but that didn’t stop miners chasing gold from taking breaks to play cards in local card rooms. When state laws were changed in the 1980s, casino gambling spread from Nevada to Atlantic City and then to other cities and American Indian reservations. Today, there are about 3,000 casinos in operation around the world.