What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building where people gamble and play games of chance. While lighted fountains, musical shows and luxurious hotels help draw in customers, the vast majority of a casino’s profits are generated by gambling games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat. These games provide the billions of dollars in gross profits that casinos rake in every year.

Casinos often offer free food, drink and entertainment to attract high rollers. They also give a variety of complimentary goods and services to regular patrons, including hotel rooms, show tickets, reduced-fare transportation and limo service. Casinos are known for their elaborate themes and decorations, and many have lavish hotels, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms and pools.

A casino’s built-in advantage in any game is called its house edge. This mathematical advantage is uniformly negative (from the player’s perspective), and it ensures that over time, a casino will make money on bets placed by its patrons. This house edge is what allows a casino to offer extravagant inducements to big bettors, such as free spectacular entertainment and elegant living quarters.

Most casinos have surveillance cameras in their gambling areas that allow security personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, at players’ actions at the table and slot machines. This helps casino employees spot any suspicious behavior and prevent the casino from being taken over by a group of criminals or other outsiders. The specialized patterns of the games, like how dealers shuffle and deal cards and where players place their bets, are also used to spot unusual behavior by surveillance cameras.