What Is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people gamble through games of chance, in some cases with an element of skill. From the glittering lights of the Las Vegas strip to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York’s Chinatown, casinos have become an integral part of our society. But despite their allure, casinos are not charitable institutions that give away free money. Like any business, they have to cover their expenses and make a profit. That’s why most casino games have built-in advantages that ensure that the house will always win, and these advantages are called the “house edge” and the “variance.”

The house advantage can be found in all types of gambling, from the simplest slot machines to the most complex table games like craps and baccarat. The most popular casino games are those where players compete against the casino, such as blackjack and poker. The casino makes its profits from the vig (vigorish) of these games, a small percentage of each bet and the house’s cut (the rake). High-stakes gamblers are known as whales because they generate enormous amounts of revenue. In return, the casino rewards them with luxury suites, gourmet food and other perks.

The casino’s goal is to keep its patrons happy and entertained, which is why it uses bright, sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that stimulate the senses and create a cheering atmosphere. It also tries to minimize their awareness of the passage of time by not placing clocks on the walls.