What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is a place where various games of chance are played. Modern casinos, which are sometimes combined with hotels and shopping centers, have become enormous enterprises that rake in billions of dollars per year. They employ thousands of people and are decorated with lavish themes, lighted fountains and replicas of famous landmarks. While these extras help attract patrons, the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from its games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and other games generate the bulk of its revenue.

While many games have a built in advantage for the casino (usually no more than two percent), the overall house edge of a casino is small enough that it does not deter millions of gamblers each year from taking a risk. As such, a casino’s success depends on its ability to attract and keep gamblers. For this reason, many casinos provide free food and drinks, stage shows and other forms of entertainment in addition to its gaming services.

Casinos were once run by mobster families and syndicates, but federal crackdowns and the danger of losing a license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement drove them out. Real estate investors and hotel chains realized the potential of casino ownership, and began buying out the gangsters. Today, Las Vegas is the world’s largest gambling destination, and other cities have opened casinos as well. In the United States, Atlantic City and Chicago are close behind.

Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. As a result, casinos spend considerable time and money on security measures. Security cameras are located throughout the premises to monitor activity, and employees patrol the floor looking for suspicious betting patterns or other signs of cheating. In addition, casinos use chips instead of paper money to make it harder for players to conceal winnings, and table managers keep an eye on each game, noting the bets placed minute by minute and watching out for any anomalies in the wheel or dice.

Despite their size and grandeur, all casinos have one thing in common: they are places where gambling is the main attraction. While musical shows and lighted fountains are used to draw in the crowds, casinos could not exist without games of chance. Slots, craps, baccarat and other games of chance offer the greatest potential for huge wins and are the source of the billions in profits raked in by casinos each year. In this article we’ll take a look at how casinos make their money, popular casino games and some of the most spectacular gambling houses in the world. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany was a playground for Europe’s royalty and aristocracy 150 years ago, and it continues to lure visitors with its luxurious casino.