What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. These places range from the world-famous strip casinos of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York City. In addition to games of chance, some casinos have restaurant and entertainment offerings.

Gambling is a popular pastime around the world, and some countries have legalized it. It is important to remember, however, that gambling is not a charitable activity. Casinos are businesses that seek to make a profit, and they have built-in advantages to ensure that they will do so. These advantages, called the house edge, are mathematically determined, and they apply to all games played in a casino, including those that involve skill (like blackjack).

Most casinos feature table games. These games are conducted by a live dealer and include baccarat, roulette, craps, and blackjack. Some casinos also have video poker machines and electronic versions of traditional table games. In a table game, the player bets against the house; winning bets pay out according to the odds. The casino makes money by taking a percentage of the total amount bet, which is called the rake.

In the United States, about 51 million people—roughly one quarter of all Americans over 21—visited a casino in 2002. Casinos often emphasize customer service and offer perks such as free hotel rooms, dinners, show tickets, and even airline tickets to high-volume players. They use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that are stimulating and cheering. They usually have few clocks in the building, since they want patrons to lose track of time and stay longer.

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