What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility where people can gamble and play games of chance, some with an element of skill. Casinos earn their billions in profits from a variety of activities, but most of the money comes from gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers lure patrons into casinos, but they would not exist without the games. Blackjack, roulette, poker and craps generate most of the revenue that keeps casinos running.

Most games have mathematically determined odds that assure the house a constant gross profit, even when players win. This advantage is known as the house edge. In games where players bet against each other, the house takes a percentage of all wagers, called a rake. In the United States, the average rake in a casino is six percent.

Although a few casinos cater to local tastes, most attract visitors from across the nation and around the world. Shuttle buses crowded with tourists arrive in Atlantic City from cities around the country, and fliers offering bargain prices to Las Vegas fill the skies. A number of casinos specialize in Far Eastern games, ranging from the popular sic bo to fan-tan and pai gow.

In addition to traditional games, casinos employ a host of tricks and psychological techniques to attract and keep gamblers. For example, slots are arranged in a maze-like fashion and are lit with more than 15,000 miles (24,100 km) of neon tubing. Casinos also rely on video surveillance. Some have cameras in the ceiling that can be adjusted to focus on certain suspicious patrons.