What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance (and sometimes with an element of skill). The term may also refer to a specific building or room in which such activities take place. Casinos vary in size and scope, from large Las Vegas resort casinos to smaller, locally-based gambling establishments. In addition to gambling, casinos often feature entertainment and dining options.

Many of the world’s most famous casinos were built in glamorous European cities like Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden, whose baroque flourishes made them a playground for Europe’s royalty and aristocracy. Today, elegant spa towns like Baden-Baden still draw visitors with their luxurious hotels and gaming floors.

While casinos use music, lighted fountains and elaborate themes to attract customers, they make most of their money by charging patrons for the opportunity to play games of chance. The profit margin on these games is determined by the house edge and variance, a mathematical formula that takes into account the frequency of wins and losses. It is calculated by mathematicians and computer programmers who work for the casino industry and are called gaming mathematicians and analysts.

Table games like blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat are the bread and butter of most casinos, but they would not exist without slot machines. These machines provide the billions in profits that enable the casino to subsidize its other entertainment offerings, such as musical shows and shopping centers. In games where players compete against each other, such as poker, the casino earns money through a commission known as the rake.