What Is a Casino?



A casino, in the broadest sense of the word, is a place where people pay to play games of chance and win prizes, usually money. A few casinos are built as entertainment complexes, with restaurants, bars, shops, museums and other attractions. People travel all over the world to visit casinos, and some cities have several.

Casinos generally have a house advantage, meaning that the average bet placed by patrons is expected to lose money. The house advantage is mathematically determined for all casino games, but it varies by game. A casino’s house edge is higher for games with an element of skill, such as blackjack and video poker. In addition to the house edge, some casino games have other profit margins, such as those with a commission taken from player bets in poker, or a rake on table games like craps and roulette.

Because of the large amounts of money that are handled within casinos, it is possible for patrons to cheat or steal, either in collusion with fellow patrons or independently; therefore, most casinos have security measures in place. Cameras that are located throughout the casino and can be focused on specific suspicious patrons are a basic measure, while more elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye in the sky for security workers.

Casinos were originally run by mobster families, but after a series of legal battles and the threat of losing their gambling licenses, the major hotel chains, real estate investors and airline companies began purchasing them and running them as legitimate businesses. Gambling is now a multibillion industry, and it is estimated that there are over 3,000 casinos worldwide.