What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that features games of chance. It also offers table games like blackjack, roulette and craps, as well as video poker and keno machines. These games generate billions in profits each year for casinos, their owners and investors, and the hotels, shopping centers and lighted fountains that decorate them.

Casinos make their money by ensuring that they always win a tiny percentage of bets, known as the house edge. That advantage can be less than two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets made by casino patrons each year. That’s enough to pay for the hotels, lighted fountains and replicas of famous pyramids, towers and landmarks that decorate casino gambling floors.

To maximize their profits, casinos lure gamblers in with a variety of tricks. They arrange the rooms and gambling tables to form a maze-like pattern that encourages wandering eyes, and they use bright colors, particularly red, which is thought to cause people to lose track of time. They also avoid clocks on the walls, since they can detract from the atmosphere.

In the 1990s, technology helped casinos become more efficient. Video cameras monitor the casino floor for blatant cheating, and chips with built-in microcircuitry allow them to keep track of bets minute by minute and warn employees of any anomalies; and electronic monitoring of roulette wheels can discover statistical deviations quickly. While a casino may provide jobs and tax revenue, critics claim that it drains local entertainment dollars and hurts property values; and that the addiction and health problems of compulsive gamblers offset any economic benefits they bring.