What Is a Casino?


A casino is an entertainment complex that has gambling as its main attraction. Although musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels help to draw in customers, the billions of dollars in annual profits from slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat and other games of chance are what keeps casinos profitable.

Casinos employ a variety of tricks to lure gamblers into their establishments, from arranging the layout of games in maze-like fashion to enticing noise and lights. The sounds of the machines are electronically tuned to the musical key of C, and more than 15,000 miles (24,100 km) of neon tubing is used to illuminate the Las Vegas Strip casinos. The brightness of casino lighting is designed to appeal to human senses of sight and touch, and more than 80 types of noise are used to keep gamblers interested in their game of choice.

Gambling has a long history in the United States, but was illegal for most of the country’s history. Nevertheless, illegal games of chance took place, often with the complicity of local law enforcement authorities. When legalized, casino gambling spread throughout the country and became a major industry.

While most people who gamble at a casino do so for recreation, a small percentage of people make a living from it. These individuals are known as high rollers and they can rake in large amounts of money by betting big sums of money on various casino games. These players are rewarded for their high level of play by casinos with a variety of perks including free rooms, food, drinks and tickets to shows.

In addition to high-stakes gamblers, casinos also attract low-stakes bettors by offering them a variety of perks. Many casinos offer player’s clubs that are similar to airline frequent flyer programs. Patrons who join the programs receive a card that is swiped before they play a game. The cards track their gambling activity and tally up points that can be exchanged for free or discounted food, drink and show tickets. Casinos also use these cards to build a database of customer information.

Because so much money is handled within a casino, both patrons and employees are susceptible to cheating and theft. To prevent these problems, most casinos have security measures in place. These include a high-tech eye-in-the-sky system that allows security personnel to watch every table, window and doorway at a glance. Security workers can also focus on particular suspicious gamblers by watching their patterns.

Because casinos are based on games of chance, the house always has an advantage over the gamblers. This advantage is known as the “house edge.” Casinos make money by taking a small portion of the total amount bet by gamblers, which is called the vigorish or rake. In some casino games, the house edge is less than two percent, but in others it is higher. These edges can add up quickly, making the difference between a casino’s profits and losses.