What is a Casino?


A casino is a building that houses games of chance and the activity of gambling. Although modern casinos offer a wide range of extras to attract customers, such as restaurants, lighted fountains and stage shows, they would not exist without the games themselves — blackjack, poker, roulette, craps, baccarat and slot machines. These generate the billions of dollars in profits raked in by American casinos each year.

Most casino games have a built-in advantage for the house, or the “house edge.” This advantage can be as low as two percent, but it adds up over time to earn casinos billions in annual profits. This money, in turn, allows them to finance elaborate hotels, casinos, revolving towers, and even replicas of famous landmarks. In addition, casinos collect a small percentage of winning bets on some games. These collections are often known as vig or rakes.

Casinos make money by attracting gamblers, keeping them gambling and making them feel like they’re getting a good deal. For example, they often provide free food and drinks to gamblers, a practice called comping. They also use sophisticated computer programs to track patrons’ game playing and spending habits, enabling them to dispense special rewards and coupons.

Historically, casinos were operated by mob families and other organized crime groups because of their deep pockets and control over local business. But the emergence of wealthy real estate investors and hotel chains meant that legitimate casino companies could outbid the mafia for gambling licenses. This helped keep mobsters out of casinos, and the mob’s influence on gambling operations diminished.