What Is a Casino?

Casino is a gambling establishment, often featuring multiple games of chance and some that require skill. In the United States, casinos are most commonly located in Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. In addition to traditional table games, modern casinos feature a wide variety of slots and video poker machines. Some even offer live dealer action.

The vast majority of casino games have a built in mathematical advantage for the house, known as the house edge. This advantage can be as low as two percent or as high as eighty percent. Combined with the large volume of bets placed, this allows casinos to make a consistent profit and afford them the luxury of extravagant entertainment, beautiful hotels, fountains, towers, and replicas of famous landmarks. In addition, most casinos collect a fee or “vig” from each game played; in some cases this is as high as ten percent of the total bet. The casino may also give out free or reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms, drinks, cigarettes while gambling, and other inducements to players called comps.

Despite the obvious disadvantages of the house edge, casino gamblers continue to flock to these establishments in droves. They are attracted by the glitz and panache of the biggest casinos, which are designed to dazzle their customers with massive halls and aisles, unique ornamentation, and brilliant lighting. Casinos are also an important economic driver, with the Las Vegas Valley being the leading tourist destination for gambling. However, some critics claim that the social costs of casino gambling—including addiction, crime, and lost productivity from compulsive gambling—offset any economic benefits they provide a community.