What is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment where people can gamble and play games of chance. From the glittering casino strip of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York City’s Chinatown, casinos entertain millions of visitors each year and make billions in profits. The American Gaming Association reports that about 51 million Americans—or about a quarter of the adult population over 21—visited a casino in 2002.

A variety of casino games are offered, with the most popular being slot machines, blackjack, poker and roulette. The casino makes money by charging a commission on these games, called the vig or rake. In some games, skill can reduce the house edge. For example, card counting is a strategy used by some players to improve their odds of winning at blackjack and other card games.

In addition to games of chance, some casinos also feature sports books and racetracks. They may also have restaurants and bars, shopping centers, and hotel accommodations. Many have theaters where musical shows and other entertainment are presented.

The most sophisticated casinos use technology to monitor and manipulate the games. For example, some chips have built-in microcircuitry to track the amount of money wagered minute by minute; computerized systems monitor roulette wheels and alert security personnel to any statistical deviations from expected outcomes.

Although casinos have a lot to offer the average patron, they are geared mainly toward high-stakes gamblers who can spend tens of thousands of dollars at a time. These high rollers often have special rooms to themselves, separate from the main floor, and are pampered with free room service, personal attention and gifts.

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