What Is a Casino?

A casino, also called a gaming house or a gambling hall, is a facility for playing games of chance and skill. In addition to traditional table games such as roulette and blackjack, casinos offer video poker, keno, craps, and baccarat. They may be large resorts with numerous hotel rooms and restaurants, or small cardrooms where patrons place bets on a variety of events. Many states have passed laws to allow casino gambling, and a few have built casinos on American Indian reservations outside state jurisdiction.

A successful casino will generate billions of dollars a year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. But critics argue that the casino industry shifts spending from other local entertainment and that compulsive gambling erodes productivity and raises health care costs and crime.

All casino games have a built in advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. This can be lower than two percent, but over the millions of bets placed in a casino each day it adds up to enough money for casinos to build their spectacular hotels, fountains and replicas of famous landmarks. Moreover, casino revenue allows them to attract high rollers who can afford to gamble for extended periods of time and spend a lot on meals, drinks, and hotel rooms. These big bettors are rewarded with “comps”—free shows, hotel rooms, limousine service and airline tickets. In the twenty-first century, however, casinos are becoming choosier about which players they reward with comps and are focusing more on high rollers who play for higher stakes.