What Is a Casino?


A casino, also called a gambling house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It is most commonly known for its slot machines and table games, such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat. Some casinos also offer video poker and sports betting. Most states where gambling is legal have laws regulating casinos. In the United States, these regulations are overseen by state gaming control boards or commissions.

Casinos go to great lengths to entice gamblers into their facilities and to keep them gambling for as long as possible. Colorful lights, bells, and whistles accentuate the atmosphere. Machine sounds, including the cling clang of dropping coins during payouts, are electronically tuned to a musical key and designed to blend in with the overall ambient noise. The noises of other patrons chatting, laughing, and shouting add to the excitement.

Like all businesses in a capitalist society, casinos are in business to make money. They rake in billions each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that own and operate them. Gambling revenues also support state and local governments.

Although the majority of casino revenue comes from slot machines, many gamblers prefer table games such as blackjack and poker. The percentage of casino gamblers who choose these games dropped slightly between 2002 and 2003. The largest segment of casino gamblers are older parents who have above-average incomes; they represent 23% of the total. To attract this group, casinos frequently offer “comp” programs that award gamblers with free or discounted meals, drinks, shows, and/or coupons for free slot play.