What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos feature a variety of games of chance and are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. They may also be known as gaming houses or kasino (in Spanish) or (in French).

Most casino games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house has an advantage over players, although some games do offer an element of skill. This advantage is expressed as the house edge and can be calculated by using statistical tools called house-edge calculations and variance analysis. The casino industry employs mathematicians and computer programmers who specialize in this type of work.

In the United States, casinos are most commonly found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. However, they are increasingly appearing on American Indian reservations and other locations that are not subject to state antigambling laws. In addition, many large commercial and tribal casinos host world-class poker tournaments.

Casinos have a wide range of security measures to prevent cheating and theft by both patrons and staff. Many have video surveillance systems that record all activity in and around the casino floor. Some have a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” system that can watch the entire casino at once, and the cameras can be adjusted to focus on suspicious activities.

The casino business has long attracted organized crime figures, who provided the money for some early casinos in Nevada. Mobster money helped legitimize the gaming business and allowed it to grow rapidly. Many casinos are owned by or have ties to organized crime families.

Despite the taint of criminal associations, many Americans enjoy casino gambling. In 2005, the average casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old female from an upper-middle-class household. This group had more discretionary income than other demographic groups, and they spent more than their counterparts who did not gamble.

Most of the revenue generated by casinos comes from table games. These include blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat. In these games, the players compete against the house and are operated by croupiers. The house edge of these games varies from game to game, and is defined by the rules of the particular game.

Some casinos also feature other table games, such as poker. Most of the popular casino poker games are based on a variation of card-hand ranking, and the best-known game is Texas hold’em. Most of the major casinos in the United States have tables for poker games, and the top players participate in televised events like the World Series of Poker. In the twentieth century, casinos have diversified their offerings to attract customers from all walks of life. In some cases, this has involved offering discounts on hotel rooms and show tickets. This strategy has made some casinos profitable even during times of economic hardship. In addition, some casinos offer complimentary items to high-spending customers, such as free drinks and food. This is known as comping. Some casinos have even developed separate facilities for high-stakes gamblers, who can play in private areas and receive luxury accommodations and personal attention from casino employees.