What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide variety of games of chance and skill. The games are regulated by laws of the jurisdiction in which they are operated. Casinos are often lavish and gaudy, with bright colors and loud music to stimulate the senses. They also feature a large number of televisions to broadcast sports and other events. Almost all casinos use some form of security, such as cameras and other electronic monitoring systems. Some have elaborate surveillance systems, with the ability to zoom in on suspicious patrons, while others rely on human watchdogs.

The main source of income for a casino is the vig or rake, which is charged on each bet placed. The vig can be as low as two percent, but over millions of wagers it adds up to significant earnings. Casinos often invest this money in extravagant hotels, towers, fountains and replicas of famous landmarks. In addition, casinos collect taxes on winnings from game play.

Something about the nature of casino gambling seems to encourage cheating and stealing, either in collusion with staff or by patrons themselves. Because of this, casinos spend a lot of time and effort on security measures. Cameras are located throughout the gaming floor and in the change windows, as well as in the ceiling. These cameras can be focused in on specific patrons at the touch of a button by security workers in a control room filled with banks of monitors.

In addition to standard table and slot machines, many casinos feature a range of other games that are popular in their locales. In Asia, for example, casinos offer traditional Far Eastern games like sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan and pai-gow. Roulette is a classic casino game that provides a thrill and an edge for high rollers, with the option to place bets on individual numbers and a variety of other risk-to-reward combinations.

In general, most casino gamblers are people who can afford to lose some of their hard-earned cash. The average player is a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income, according to research by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS. This demographic is attractive to casino operators because they can afford the luxuries of gambling. However, studies have shown that casino gambling hurts local businesses by diverting spending away from other forms of entertainment, and that the cost of treating compulsive gamblers offsets any economic gains the casinos may bring to a region. This is why the majority of casino profits come from visitors from out of town. Many casinos promote themselves with deeply discounted travel packages, free buffets and shows. This is called comping. It is a practice that was especially common in Las Vegas during the 1970s.

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