What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building that houses gambling games. Though lighted fountains, shopping centers and musical shows may lure the public into a casino, casinos would not exist without games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. These games generate the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in each year.

While many people enjoy visiting casinos for the entertainment and fun they provide, some are addicted to gambling. Compulsive gamblers generate a disproportionately large percentage of casino profits. They spend money that could be used to help pay for food, shelter, health care and other necessities. In addition, their behavior often causes damage to family and friends. The resulting social costs are much greater than the financial benefits of a casino.

Casinos earn money by charging a vig, or house edge, on their gambling activities. A player’s skill can reduce the house edge, but only to a certain extent. The house edge is not a random number; it is determined by the rules of the game and its mathematical properties. Mathematicians who study the house edge of casino games are called gaming mathematicians or gaming analysts.

Most casinos offer a wide variety of gambling games, from classic table games to modern video poker. Some are famous for their elegance or history, such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Others are known for their glitz and glamour, like the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco or the Casino Lisboa in Lisbon.