What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment offering customers a variety of games of chance, and in some cases skill, for a chance to win money. Modern casinos also offer other forms of entertainment such as musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers. The majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat generate billions of dollars in profits for casinos each year.

In the 1950s, mobster money poured into casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. Mafia gangsters had plenty of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets and were willing to put their reputations on the line to control these seamy businesses. They took sole or partial ownership of casinos, supervised operations and even influenced outcomes of certain games by intimidating casino personnel. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mob involvement soon ended mob control of the industry.

Most casino games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house will always win, a concept known as the “house edge.” This advantage is built into the rules of each game and cannot be overcome. Some casinos make additional profits from games that involve skill, such as baccarat, blackjack and video poker. In these games the house takes a rake or commission.

Some casinos give away complimentary items, or comps, to favored players. These might include hotel rooms, free meals or tickets to shows. The amount of time and money a player spends at a casino is usually considered when determining whether to grant comps.