What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers draw visitors to casinos, but they would not exist without the billions in gambling profits raked in every year by slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other casino games. In casinos with a skill element, such as blackjack and trente et quarante, the house gains an advantage over the players through mathematically determined odds (known as expected value) or, in cases where players play against each other, through a commission known as the rake.

Many large cities have casinos, which are often combined with hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. The largest casinos are in Las Vegas and Macau. Casino can also refer to:

In its early days, the casino business relied on mob money, with mafia figures investing in Reno and Las Vegas as they did with other illegal rackets such as drug dealing and extortion. This money helped casinos grow rapidly, and some even outgrew their original locations. Today, many casinos have become enormous resorts, with massive buffets, dazzling hotels and more than one game floor. Some are even built to look like a star-studded theater or an ocean liner. The soaring Hotel Lisboa in Macau is the world’s tallest building and sports a million LED lights. Despite their glamorous exteriors, however, casinos can be dark places. Something about gambling, whether on a small scale at a local card club or on the grand stage of Las Vegas, encourages cheating and theft by patrons and employees alike. That’s why casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security measures.