What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. From the glamorous casinos of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York City’s Chinatown, there are gambling establishments all over the world. Some are more upscale than others, with lavish restaurants, stage shows, and dramatic scenery. But the basic purpose of a casino is the same: to attract customers by offering them a range of gambling activities.

Table games, such as baccarat (in its popular variant, chemin de fer), blackjack, and roulette, are fixtures in most casinos. Most games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house always has an advantage over players, which is called the edge. The casino’s profit is usually made through a rake, which is a percentage of the pot or an hourly fee for playing the game.

In some countries, such as France and Monaco, casinos are regulated and operate under strict rules. But in the United States, they are mostly privately owned and operated, often by organized crime groups. Mob money flows into the casinos of Reno and Las Vegas, where they often have a tainted reputation. Many mafia figures have taken sole or partial ownership of casinos and become personally involved in management, securing their profits through intimidation and violence directed against casino employees.

To attract and retain customers, casinos provide a variety of perks known as comps. These include free hotel rooms, discounted buffet meals, and tickets to shows. High rollers, who regularly place large bets on specific casino titles, can receive even larger bonuses.