What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble, play games of chance and sometimes even win money. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers make casinos feel like indoor amusement parks for adults, the vast majority of their profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps bring in billions every year, and other games of chance such as keno, bingo and baccarat add to that total.

Gambling has existed almost as long as humans have, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found at some of the oldest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino evolved in the 16th century, as a way to combine a variety of ways to gamble under one roof, and it took decades for casinos to spread outside Nevada.

While casino gambling is not legal in every state, it is well established and is growing rapidly. The best known of these establishments are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but there are also several casinos in Canada and many online versions as well.

Casinos make their money by charging patrons a small percentage of each bet they place, a practice called vigorish or rake. This edge can be less than two percent, and over the millions of wagers placed at casinos each year, it can add up.

Aside from vigorish, casinos generate their revenue by taking commissions on certain types of bets and by offering comps to high rollers. The latter are players who spend a lot of money and receive rewards in return, such as free rooms and food. Security measures include cameras and other technological devices, but patrons and staff are often tempted to cheat or steal.