What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. It is often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Many casinos also feature live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, concerts and sports. Casinos are operated by a variety of businesses, including independent operators, private companies and state-owned enterprises.

Most casino games are based on chance, though some have an element of skill. Some of the more popular table games include poker, blackjack, baccarat, craps and roulette. In general, each game has a mathematical edge for the house, which can be as low as two percent but adds up over time as players place millions of bets.

Gambling is legal in most states, and it’s estimated that 51 million people visited a casino in 2002. Almost all of these gamblers are adults, and the majority are women over forty-five. These older, wealthier patrons typically spend more money than other types of casino visitors.

Several studies have shown that compulsive gambling has severe social and economic consequences, with five percent of all casino patrons being addicted gamblers who generate 25 percent of casino profits. Critics point out that casino revenue shifts spending away from other forms of local entertainment and that the cost of treating problem gambling addictions reverses any economic benefits the gaming industry might bring. The industry has responded to these criticisms by implementing sophisticated technology to ensure fairness. In addition to video cameras, computerized systems monitor each betting chip minute by minute and alert the croupiers of any discrepancy.