What Is a Casino?


A casino (from the Latin for “house”) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Some casinos are stand-alone buildings, while others are combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. In the United States, the term casino may also refer to a gaming establishment operated by an Indian tribe. Some casinos are regulated by government agencies, while others are unregulated and operate outside the law. In either case, they are designed to lure gamblers with flashing lights and glamorous ambience.

Gambling in casinos is based on chance, but there are elements of skill in games such as blackjack and poker. The house always has a mathematical advantage over players, which is called the house edge. Casinos earn profits from the players’ bets, plus a percentage of the money they pay out in winnings. In some cases, the house also collects a rake from table game players and a fee from video poker machines.

Casinos are expensive to run, so they need large numbers of patrons to stay in business. But some critics claim that casino revenues divert spending from other local entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gamblers offsets any economic benefits. In addition, people who spend a lot of time at the tables or on slot machines are often given complimentary goods and services (comped) by the casinos, such as free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets, and even airline tickets and limo service.