What is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming establishment, is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Many casinos are combined with hotels, resorts or restaurants and are located in states where gambling is legal. Other casinos are built on Indian reservations, where they are not subject to state anti-gambling laws. In addition to gambling, a casino may offer food and drink, stage shows or other entertainment, and retail shops.

Although most casino games involve some element of skill, the house always has a mathematical advantage over players. This advantage, which is determined by the game’s odds of winning and losing, can be calculated in advance and is called the “house edge.” In some games, such as blackjack or video poker, the house earns additional income from a commission taken from player bets, known as the rake. In card games such as baccarat, chemin de fer and trente et quarante, the house makes its profit by taking a fixed percentage of each pot or charging an hourly fee. Casinos occasionally give patrons complimentary items, or comps, to encourage them to gamble more.

Because of the large amounts of money handled by casinos, there are a number of security measures in place to prevent cheating and stealing by both patrons and employees. These include surveillance cameras, restricted access areas and secure betting lines. Something about the atmosphere of casinos, perhaps the presence of large amounts of cash, seems to encourage some people to try and steal, whether in collusion with staff or independently.