What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming room, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos offer a variety of games, such as craps, roulette, poker, blackjack, and video poker, and often include dining facilities and other entertainment. Some are built adjacent to hotels, resorts or cruise ships. Other casinos are standalone.

Casinos are most frequently associated with games of chance, but some involve skill. Regardless of the game, most have mathematically determined odds that give the casino an advantage over the players. This advantage is known as the house edge. In games with an element of skill, such as blackjack or video poker, the house edge is less than in games of pure chance. In games where players compete against each other, such as poker, the house earns money via a commission called the rake.

Several states have legalized casinos, including Atlantic City in New Jersey and Iowa. In addition, many American Indian tribes operate casinos on their reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. Casinos are also found in Puerto Rico and South America. In the United States, the first commercial casino opened in Atlantic City in 1978. Other states soon followed suit, and by the 1990s, there were more than 3,000 legal casinos in operation.

In the 21st century, many casinos focus their investments on high rollers who gamble in special rooms away from the main floor. These gamblers can spend tens of thousands of dollars in a short time, and the casinos earn much of their profits from these customers. The casinos compensate these high rollers by offering free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and other perks.

Most modern casinos feature a wide variety of slot machines and table games. The most popular table games are baccarat (in its variants, chemin de fer and banque), poker (variants such as Texas hold’em and Omaha), pai gow and blackjack. Some casinos offer more traditional Far Eastern games, such as sic bo and fan-tan.

Security is an important part of casino operations. A casino’s security personnel constantly watch the patrons and look for anything out of the ordinary. Dealers are especially vigilant, as they must be able to spot any attempt to cheat at their tables, such as palming or marking cards.

Elaborate surveillance systems allow security workers to keep track of all activity in the casino. Typically, cameras in the ceiling provide an “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino and can be adjusted to focus on specific areas or suspicious patrons. These cameras are linked to a control room, where security personnel can monitor the activities of all casino patrons. Security personnel can even review past surveillance footage if something unusual occurs. The information is recorded and stored for future reference. Casinos may also employ a range of other security measures. Some use metal detectors to screen all incoming and outgoing patrons. Others have a more subtle approach, using patterns and routines to identify potential problems.