What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building where people gamble by playing games of chance, or in some cases skill. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in customers, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits generated by games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, and keno.

The games of chance played in casinos have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house will win. This advantage is known as the house edge, and it is a fundamental component of the business model of casinos. Casinos try to offset this by offering free food and drinks, which keep people gambling longer. They also take a percentage of money bet by players in card games like poker, and this is known as the rake.

Until recently, mobsters controlled many casinos in the United States. But as legitimate businesses such as hotel chains, real estate investors and even Donald Trump got involved, they realized that they could make a lot of money by owning and operating casinos. Federal crackdowns on the mob have made it more difficult for them to control casino operations.

Because large amounts of money are handled in casinos, security is a major concern. Most modern casinos have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that patrol the casino floor and respond to calls for assistance and reports of suspected or definite criminal activity. In addition, most casinos have closed circuit television systems that watch over the tables and slot machines.