What Is a Casino?


The term casino refers to a gambling establishment where a variety of games of chance are played. Often, these games include slots, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno. The modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park for adults, and the vast majority of revenue that casinos generate is generated from the sale of tickets for these games of chance.

In recent years, the popularity of these venues has grown, and a number of states have amended their antigambling laws to permit them. In addition, many American Indian reservations have casinos on their land, which are not subject to state antigambling statutes. Some have even been permitted to operate on riverboats. Regardless of the location, all casinos share certain characteristics, including the use of trained dealers and the presence of security personnel.

Casinos are generally run by a casino owner, who is known as the “banker.” The banker has a variety of built-in advantages designed to ensure that he will win a large percentage of the money that is wagered in the casino. These built-in advantages are referred to as the house edge, and they can be very profitable. A skilled gambler can reduce the house edge by minimizing his bet size, learning game strategy and taking advantage of any misplays that occur.

While gambling is the primary focus of casinos, some offer other entertainment as well, such as stage shows, restaurants and bars. They may also feature a selection of slot machines, which are the economic mainstay of most American casinos, generating billions in revenue every year. These machines are highly profitable, despite having a very high house edge (approximately 1 percent or more) and offering very low payback rates (typically three percent or less).

Because of the large amounts of currency handled within casinos, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently. For this reason, casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security. In addition to cameras, some casinos utilize an elaborate system of computerized surveillance that gives them a sort of high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that can monitor each table, window and doorway.

Gambling in casinos has long been a popular pastime, and the earliest recorded examples of it date back thousands of years. The precise origins of the activity are not known, but it can be credited to primitive people who threw bones or sticks to determine the outcome of an event. In more modern times, gambling has become a part of many cultural activities, from horse races to lottery drawings. In the 20th century, however, the advent of electronic gaming machines has changed the face of casinos dramatically.