What Is a Casino?


A casino is a building or room in which people can engage in gambling. A casino is often associated with high-stakes games of chance or skill, such as blackjack, poker and roulette. Casinos also feature stage shows, restaurants and free drinks. Some casinos even have replicas of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Las Vegas Strip. While most casino games involve a degree of luck, some have a small house advantage that generates profits. The house edge is known as the vig, vigorish or rake.

The casino industry has grown rapidly over the past two decades. In the United States alone, there are now more than 1,700 licensed and regulated casinos. Many of these are located in cities and towns with a large population of potential customers. Some are operated by major hotel chains. Other casinos are owned by Native American tribes or private investors. However, most casinos operate under licenses from government gaming commissions.

Some casino patrons are addicted to gambling, and compulsive gamblers account for a disproportionate share of the industry’s profits. In fact, studies show that casino revenues can actually decrease a city’s income because of the lost productivity of problem gamblers. In addition, the cost of treating problem gamblers offsets any economic benefits a casino might bring to a community.

In terms of the physical structure of a casino, the most elaborately designed is the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, which was built to resemble a deck of cards. This massive complex includes three hotels, an enormous shopping mall and a giant casino. It has held a number of world records since it opened in 2011.

There are several security measures used to protect patrons at casinos. Some are technological, such as a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance system that watches every table, window and doorway. Security workers can adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons. Other security measures are more subtle, such as observing the routines of players at different games to spot anything out of the ordinary.

Unlike other business ventures, casinos require a significant amount of capital to start up and run successfully. Because of this, they often appeal to mobsters and other organized crime figures with their promise of easy money. The mafia in Nevada provided much of the initial capital for Reno and Las Vegas, as well as a steady flow of cash to the casinos through loans, bribes and protection payments. Some mobsters became involved in the actual management of some casinos and took sole or partial ownership of others, sometimes even threatening to kill casino employees who didn’t follow their orders.

The Venetian Macao in China is the largest casino in the world, with 850 tables and 3,400 slot machines. It is a combination of casinos and hotels and covers an area of 976,000 square meters. It is owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The company has invested around $12 billion in the project. The casino has 14 hotels and is a major source of revenue for the region.