What is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos are like indoor amusement parks for adults and the vast majority of their profits come from gambling games such as slots, poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, keno and baccarat. They are often combined with hotels, shopping centers and elaborate entertainment venues. Despite their flashy lights, dazzling displays and glitzy atmospheres, casinos are primarily businesses that make money by offering a statistical advantage to the house over the patrons who play the games.

The advantage is very small, usually less than two percent. Over the millions of bets placed by patrons each year, this slight edge translates into billions in gross revenues. To keep this revenue stream flowing, casinos offer patrons a variety of expensive inducements. These include free spectacular entertainment, free luxurious hotel accommodations and reduced-fare transportation. Casinos also earn money from the game players through a fee called a vig or rake, depending on the game.

Gambling has been around for millennia, with the first evidence of dice games appearing in 2300 BC China and card games showing up in Europe in the 1400s. The popularity of casinos has soared since the early 1980s, when Atlantic City became legalized and American Indian reservations were opened to casino gambling. Today, there are more than 3,000 legal casinos in operation worldwide. They are mostly found in states where gambling is permitted, including Nevada, New Jersey and Atlantic City, and on many American Indian reservations.