What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where a variety of games of chance are played. Although casinos often add many other types of entertainment to draw in patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, they are primarily places where gambling takes place. Traditionally, a casino is a large building that houses a variety of gambling activities and has been designed to stimulate the senses of excitement and anticipation. Modern casinos often add a large amount of luxury to this basic definition, but there have been less lavish establishments that have housed gambling activities and still been called casinos.

Most gamblers understand that casinos make money by charging a small percentage of the total amount of bets to each player. This is known as the house edge and it can be very small – lower than two percent in some cases – but it is enough to earn casinos billions of dollars in annual profits. In addition to this basic revenue source, some casinos generate substantial income from high rollers and other big bettors. These players receive comps such as free rooms, dinners and tickets to shows in return for their considerable investment.

In addition to earning money from gambling, casinos also make money by selling food and drink, and by operating hotel and spa facilities. The profits from these operations help to offset the cost of the buildings, equipment and employees that keep the casinos running.

Despite the fact that casinos are built to provide a fun and exciting environment, they are not immune from the same economic forces that affect other businesses. They compete with other casinos, non-gambling resorts, on-line gambling and an illegal gambling business that is often much larger than the legal gaming establishments. A casino that fails to make a profit may close down, and even the most successful casinos will lose money from time to time.

Something about the presence of large sums of money encourages people to cheat and steal, so casinos must spend a significant portion of their resources on security. Security personnel monitor the floor and the casino patrons closely for evidence of any foul play. In addition, they have cameras that record all activities on the casino floor. Casino security personnel also work to prevent patrons from stealing chips or other items from one another. These personnel are supervised by pit bosses and other managers who have a broader view of the casino floor. This allows them to spot blatant tactics such as palming, marking and switching dice and cards. This information is passed on to other managers who can take appropriate action. This type of surveillance is more effective than simply monitoring the activities of individual dealers and table managers.