What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Many casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Some are owned by governments, while others are operated by private corporations. In addition to traditional table games such as craps, roulette, and blackjack, casinos offer slot machines and video poker. Unlike skill-based games such as poker, the house always has an advantage in casino gambling, and the mathematically determined odds are known as the house edge.

Casinos are heavily guarded against cheating and theft by both patrons and employees. Security personnel use cameras throughout the facility, and high-tech systems provide a “eye-in-the-sky” that can monitor the entire casino at once. Dedicated cameras watch tables, windows, and doorways; they can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. The casino’s computer chips determine payouts in slot machines. For table games, the casino earns money through a commission called the rake.

The typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. This demographic is the target of many casino advertising campaigns. Other research indicates that a large percentage of casino gamblers are addicted to gambling, and these players generate a disproportionate share of the profits. However, economic studies show that the net impact of casinos on a community is negative, due to lost productivity and the cost of treating problem gamblers. These facts have led some to advocate that gambling should be restricted to a limited number of facilities, controlled by government agencies.