What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. In some jurisdictions, casinos are licensed by government authorities to offer various games of chance. They may be located in or near hotels, restaurants, resorts, retail shops, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos specialize in particular games, such as baccarat or poker. Other casinos are devoted to entertainment, such as theaters or live performances. Still others are designed as miniature cities, complete with replicas of famous buildings.

Most games of chance have built-in advantages that ensure that the house will always win, regardless of the skill level of the player. This advantage is called the house edge, vig, or rake. In some cases, the house edge is negligible; in others it is substantial.

Casinos use technology to help them monitor the games and ensure fair play. In addition to video cameras that watch the action, some casinos have computerized systems to supervise the games themselves. For example, in “chip tracking,” betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that interacts with the electronic systems of the tables to enable casinos to oversee the exact amounts wagered minute by minute and to be alerted to any anomaly. Roulette wheels are regularly monitored electronically to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results.

Casinos often give out free goods or services to players, known as comps. These can include rooms, food, drinks, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets. They also earn money by taking a percentage of the bets made on their games, called a vig or rake. Comps and vig make up a significant portion of a casino’s profits. However, economic studies indicate that the net value of a casino to a community is negative, because it shifts spending from other forms of entertainment and causes people to gamble compulsively.