What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Some casinos are built as part of hotels, resorts, or cruise ships, while others stand alone. Regardless of their size, they all draw in billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them, as well as state and local governments that collect taxes and other payments from gamblers. Some states have even legalized casino-type games at racetracks and on barges on waterways, as well as in bars, restaurants, truck stops, and other small businesses.

The casino industry is one of the largest employers in Nevada and, in some cities, the primary employer. It also supports a significant number of other businesses, including restaurants, entertainment companies, hotel chains, and service providers. In addition to jobs directly related to gambling, casinos contribute to the economy by generating tourism revenue. The resulting tax revenues fund schools, roads, and other infrastructure. In many states, local governments also rely on casino revenues to provide social services and support public works projects.

Casinos earn money by taking a percentage of each bet placed by patrons. The advantage can be very small, less than two percent on average, but it adds up over millions of bets. This income allows casinos to build elaborate buildings, fountains, pyramids, towers, and replicas of famous landmarks. In addition to gaming, casinos offer concerts, shows, and other forms of entertainment.

While some people may view gambling as a vice, the vast majority of gamblers enjoy it as a form of recreation. In 2008, 24% of Americans reported that they had visited a casino in the previous year. This number has been rising steadily since the 1980s, when it was around 20%.

Despite the rosy outlook, there are problems associated with casinos. Security is a big concern, as casino staff must constantly be on the lookout for people cheating or stealing. Dealers are trained to spot blatant cheating like palming, marking, or switching cards and dice, while pit bosses watch table games with a more broader perspective to catch suspicious behavior. Computer technology can track betting chips to reveal any statistical deviation from expected results.

In the past, organized crime mobsters controlled many casinos. They provided the capital to finance expansion and renovation, as well as the high stakes that attracted affluent tourists. But legitimate businessmen, who had deeper pockets than the mob, soon realized the potential of the gambling industry and bought out the mobsters. Federal crackdowns on mob activity and the fear of losing a license at the slightest hint of mafia involvement keep the mob out of modern casinos.

In the twenty-first century, casinos have shifted their focus to customer service. They reward frequent customers with perks, such as discounted travel packages, free rooms, and show tickets. They are also choosier about which gamblers they allow on the premises, giving preferential treatment to high rollers who spend much more than average. In return, these high rollers receive comps worth tens of thousands of dollars.