What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that accepts wagers on games of chance (and sometimes skill). The most common casino games include roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, and craps. Most casinos also have video poker and slot machines. Casinos can be privately owned by a single individual, an entire corporation, or even a tribe of Native Americans.

In the United States, most casinos are located in Nevada and Atlantic City. During the 1950s and 1960s, organized crime figures funded the construction and operations of casinos in Las Vegas. Mob money helped to give a veneer of legitimacy to gambling, which was otherwise viewed as a sinful activity. As a result, many legitimate businessmen were reluctant to become involved in the industry. However, mobsters did not share this aversion to the taint of criminality and became sole or partial owners of some casinos and controlled others through the threat of violence against employees.

Generally speaking, casino games offer the house a mathematical advantage over patrons. This advantage is called the house edge, and it varies from game to game. For example, the house advantage in roulette is less than 1 percent, while that of blackjack is around 1.4 percent. Craps, on the other hand, appeals to large bettors and requires a higher percentage from them.

Most modern casinos are heavily reliant on technology to supervise their operations. For example, chips with built-in microcircuitry allow casinos to monitor exactly how much is wagered minute by minute; the results of roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from their expected values; and slot machines have an underlying computer system that determines payouts.