What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos also feature live entertainment. The precise origin of casino gambling is unknown, but it is believed to have been influenced by ancient Mesopotamia, China, India, and Egypt. Modern casino games, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and video poker, have mathematically determined odds that give the house a permanent advantage over players.

The house edge is the difference between the expected value of a bet and the amount wagered, or the house’s profit. A casino’s profitability depends on its ability to attract and keep customers. A variety of strategies are used to do this, including offering free food and drink, and allowing patrons to gamble with “comps” (gifts) like hotel rooms, show tickets, and limo service. The use of chips instead of real money reduces the amount of cash a player is exposed to, although this does not diminish the house’s advantage.

Casinos are a common sight on the Las Vegas Strip and elsewhere in the United States, and have become an integral part of the entertainment industry. They are often featured in television shows and movies, and have a reputation for being glamorous and exciting places to visit. Casinos are also found on many American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. Despite the widespread availability of casino gambling, some people feel that it is addictive and socially destructive. Studies suggest that compulsive gambling harms local communities by reducing spending on other forms of recreation, and by decreasing property values.