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What Is a Casino?


A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help attract customers, the vast majority of revenue and profits for casinos come from games of chance. Slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps, keno and other games provide billions of dollars in profits for American casinos every year.

Every casino game has a mathematical expectancy, which can be expressed as the house edge. This advantage is the casino’s profit, and it is uniformly negative from the player’s point of view. The casino earns money through games of chance, as well as by charging a fee for services such as drinks and cigarettes. In addition, patrons who spend large amounts of time and money at the tables are sometimes given complimentary items (compliments) or even hotel rooms, limo service and airline tickets. This is known as comping.

The early days of casinos in the United States were often marred by organized crime. Mafia members provided the bankroll and influenced decisions at games of chance. However, federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement meant that legitimate businessmen eventually bought out the mobsters.

A casino can be located in a city, resort or private island. Typically, a casino has several floors with numerous game machines and tables for various gambling activities. It may also feature an observation tower, where guests can look down on the activities taking place below them. The layout of a casino can vary, but some common features include a main entrance and exit, a cashier’s booth, security and surveillance systems, and the gaming floor.