What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers patrons the opportunity to wager money on games of chance. These establishments may be operated by a variety of entities, including government-licensed gaming clubs, hotel resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and even cruise ships. They are generally located in tourist destinations and are often combined with other entertainment options, such as theaters and live sporting events.

Most casinos offer a wide range of table and slot machines, while some also feature racetracks or poker rooms. A few large casinos specialize in certain games, such as roulette (a principal game in France), baccarat, and sic bo. Asian casinos often feature traditional Far Eastern games, such as pai gow poker and fan-tan.

Casinos are designed to maximize revenue and profits. A large percentage of the gross profits that they generate come from games of chance, and the mathematical expectancy of a casino is such that it is extremely rare for a casino to lose money for any length of time. This fact, together with the popularity of gambling among Americans, has made casinos a vital economic force in most American cities and towns.

While musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate themes help lure gamblers, the vast majority of the revenue that casinos generate comes from games of chance. This article takes a look at how casinos make their money, the history behind some of the most popular games and some of the more controversial aspects of the business.