What Is a Casino?


A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Its patrons play games of chance or skill, and some casinos also offer live entertainment. Successful casinos can bring in billions of dollars each year for the corporations, investors and Native American tribes that own and operate them, as well as local governments that impose taxes and fees to regulate the industry. Casinos may also be combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, or cruise ships. Casino games are played on computerized consoles or at tables, and winnings are based on the number of credits or tokens a player inserts into the machine. The house always has a mathematical advantage over players, and this is known as the house edge.

A growing number of states have legalized some form of gambling, either in casinos or at racetracks remodeled to allow such activities. In addition, casinos are often built on Indian reservations. These facilities are typically smaller than a traditional casino, but they nevertheless generate substantial revenues.

In the United States, over 51 million people—roughly one quarter of the population over 21—visited a casino in 2002. Among them, the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female with above-average income from a household. This demographic makes up the majority of visitors to Nevada’s glitzy Las Vegas Strip and is also the target market for many new casino projects across the country. In the twenty-first century, the business strategy of most casinos is to target high rollers, who are offered extravagant inducements to spend more money. These may include free spectacular entertainment, luxury suites, reduced-fare transportation and meals, and other perks.