What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility where people can gamble by playing games of chance or skill. Gambling takes place in massive Las Vegas resorts, small pai gow parlors in New York’s Chinatown, and even on boats and barges on lakes and riverboats (known as racinos). Successful casinos earn billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors, Native American tribes, and individual proprietors. They also provide jobs and revenue for state and local governments.

Beneath the varnish of flashing lights and free cocktails, however, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed patrons of their cash. This advantage is the casino’s “house edge,” which can be as low as two percent, but over millions of bets, the house will come out ahead every time.

As such, the vast majority of casino players lose money in the long run. Nevertheless, gambling is a popular activity, with many people making regular weekend trips to the nearest casino. The most common demographic is women between the ages of forty-six and fifty, who tend to have more vacation time and spending money than younger adults.

The casino business is booming worldwide, with new facilities opening all the time. Most of these are enormous resorts built on a theme, but there are also small operations in the form of card rooms and illegal pai gow parlors. In addition to their gaming floors, most of these facilities feature restaurants and bars, art galleries, and other attractions. They are often located in urban areas and are easy to reach, as evidenced by shuttle buses crammed with visitors running constantly to and from the Las Vegas strip.