What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance and win money. Many casinos feature restaurants, bars and entertainment. Some are famous for their fountain shows and luxurious accommodations, like the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Other famous casinos include the Monte Carlo in Monaco, the Casino Lisboa in Lisbon and the Baden-Baden in Germany.

Most games of chance give the house a mathematical edge, called the house edge. The advantage is small, lower than two percent, but over time it adds up. The casino collects this extra income through a fee, known as the vig or rake, which is taken out of each bet. Casinos also make money by giving free goods and services to “good” players, a practice known as comping. Free meals, hotel rooms and tickets to shows are common comps. In some cases, the comps are so generous they encourage players to wager more than they would otherwise.

To increase revenue, casinos rely on patrons who spend large amounts of money. They advertise heavily and try to attract high rollers with luxurious suites, private dealers and other perks. They target gamblers with high disposable incomes, especially older people with plenty of vacation time and available spending money. According to a 2005 study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS, the average casino patron is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above-average income.

Organized crime figures controlled many of the nation’s early casinos. However, federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mob involvement drove these gangsters out of the business. Real estate investors and hotel chains bought out the mob interests, and today’s casinos are run by legitimate businesses.