What is a Casino?

The term casino is used to describe any public place where gambling games are played and a person can place a wager. Many casinos add to this definition by providing restaurant dining, free drinks and stage shows, but even a place that simply houses gambling activities could be called a casino. The elegance of casinos, as demonstrated by the palatial hotels in Las Vegas and the red-and-gold poker rooms in Baden-Baden, have made them a popular tourist destination for decades.

Casinos are primarily profit-making enterprises. They have built in mathematical advantages (often referred to as the house edge) for most games that involve some level of skill. The advantage may be only two percent, but it is enough to keep most casinos in business. This is how they are able to spend millions of dollars on elaborate hotels, fountains and replicas of famous landmarks. In table games like blackjack and trente et quarante, the casino makes money by taking a commission on each bet, known as the rake.

In the past, mobster money helped casinos flourish, but federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a license for any hint of Mafia involvement have driven organized crime out of the industry. Now most casino owners are real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets. These businesses are choosy about where they put their money and concentrate on bringing in high rollers, people who gamble large amounts of money. These big bettors are often rewarded with comps, or free goods and services, such as meals, hotel rooms and tickets to shows.