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What Is a Casino?


A casino, also known as a gaming house or a gambling house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Some casinos are standalone, while others are integrated into hotels, resorts, or cruise ships. Casinos are primarily known for hosting casino games, but some also have sports books and racetracks. Some casinos also offer additional entertainment such as concerts and stand-up comedy.

The earliest modern casinos were founded in the United States in Nevada, where gaming was legalized. They began to spread across the country in the 1980s, with Atlantic City leading the way. Other states soon adopted similar laws, and casinos also started to appear on American Indian reservations, where they were exempt from state antigambling statutes.

In addition to the obvious luxuries that casino patrons enjoy—free drinks, showy stage shows and dramatic scenery—a major part of a casino’s income is derived from its built in mathematical advantage over players. That advantage can be small—less than two percent—but over millions of bets, it adds up to substantial profits.

Casinos use this money to pay for their luxuries, and to attract customers by offering comps such as free hotel rooms and tickets to shows. They may also offer discounted meals and transportation, or even limo service to high rollers. Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To reduce the risk, most casinos have security measures, including surveillance cameras.