What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment where a wide variety of games of chance (and sometimes skill) are played. The games of chance that make up the bulk of the business are slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. While elaborate themes, stage shows and upscale restaurants help draw the crowds, it is the games that provide the billions in profits that casinos are renowned for.

Gambling addiction is a real and growing problem in the United States, and is often triggered by circumstances like job loss or the failure of other investments. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, there are many resources available to help. The American Council on Problem Gambling has a toll-free hotline for people seeking assistance, as well as a wealth of information on its website.

Most state laws require casinos to display signs warning of the dangers of problem gambling and provide contact information for organizations that can provide specialized support. Some casinos also offer responsible gambling programs, which are regulated by the state and include counseling for addicts. The programs may be offered in the casino or through community-based organizations.

The term casino may refer to one of several places that house gambling activities:

In the earliest days of the casino industry, the word casino simply meant a public place where a variety of games of chance could be played. Today, a casino can mean any of the world’s thousands of gambling establishments. Most of these facilities are located in countries where gambling is legal, and most allow patrons to wager money on a variety of events, including horse races, soccer matches, and basketball games.

A casino’s profitability depends on its ability to attract gamblers, and it uses a variety of incentives to do so. To entice large bettors, for example, it reduces its house edge on certain games to less than 1 percent. It also offers free or reduced-fare transportation and luxurious living quarters to high rollers.

In the past, organized crime figures provided much of the funding for Reno and Las Vegas casinos, although legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved in gambling because it had a seamy reputation. After mob involvement was thwarted by federal enforcement actions, the money of wealthy businessmen and hotel chains became the main source of casino finance. Even so, the owners of the major casinos still seek funds from mobsters to cover expansion and renovation.