What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where a variety of gambling activities take place. It adds a host of luxuries to attract patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. But even less lavish establishments that house gambling activities can be called casinos, as long as the focus is on games of chance and nothing else.

Gambling has been around for millennia in almost every society, though the precise origin is unknown. Casinos have been built to make a profit from it, and the house always comes out ahead. This is why they can afford to spend millions of dollars on fountains, towers, pyramids and replicas of famous landmarks.

The house advantage can be small, lower than two percent for many casino games, but over time it can generate enough income to finance casinos with their elaborate hotels, fountains and other decorations. The casino also makes money by charging a commission for playing certain games, known as the vig or rake.

A casino’s security begins on the floor, where staff watch patrons and look for signs of cheating. Dealers are highly trained to spot blatant tricks, such as palming or marking cards, and pit bosses and table managers have a wider view of the action to check betting patterns for suspicious activity. Elaborate electronic systems allow for “chip tracking,” where betting chips have microcircuitry to monitor the exact amounts wagered minute by minute, and computerized roulette wheels are monitored to discover statistical deviations.