What Is a Casino?

A casino is a public place where people can play a variety of games of chance for money or other items that have value, including card games, dice games and even slot machines. While some casinos offer a wide range of gambling options, others specialize in specific types of games or provide special facilities such as high-tech surveillance systems and luxurious hotel accommodations.

The term casino is often used interchangeably with the words gambling establishment and gaming hall, although the latter is more descriptive of a specific type of gambling venue. The latter also tends to have more amenities such as restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery. There have been a number of landmark casinos throughout history, such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco. Other famous casinos include the Hippodrome in London, the Casino Lisboa in Lisbon and the Baden-Baden in Germany.

Casinos make money by charging fees or taking a commission on the amount of money bet by patrons. This is called the house edge, and it gives the casino a mathematical advantage over the players. This advantage can be very small, but over time it earns the casino enough money to pay for lavish hotels, fountains and giant pyramid or tower structures. The exact amount of the house edge can vary by game, however. For instance, some games have an edge that is based on the probability of winning (known as the “house percentage” or “expected value”) while other games have an edge that is determined by rules and strategy (the difference between expected value and the player’s actual bet). The house edge is calculated by mathematicians who work for casinos.