What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility for gambling on games of chance and skill. Licensed casinos, as distinguished from illegal card rooms and pai gow halls, are often located in resorts or tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the European ski town of Baden-Baden. Increasingly, however, casinos are being introduced in states and regions that have not previously had them, including some on Native American reservations. The industry generates billions of dollars a year for the businesses, investors, and companies that own and operate the facilities, as well as for local governments that levy taxes and fees on the gambling business.

Casinos offer a variety of games, from blackjack and roulette to poker and slot machines. Many of the games are “banked”—players bet against the house, rather than against each other, as in baccarat and trente et quarante (French for seven-and-a-half). Other games, such as bingo and traditional slot machines, are nonbanked; the casino makes its profit by taking a percentage of the money wagered.

A large portion of casino revenue is derived from patrons who play slot machines and electronic gaming devices. These players are known as “comp” customers, and casinos often offer loyalty programs that reward frequent gamblers with free or discounted meals, drinks, shows, and hotel rooms. According to surveys conducted by Roper Reports GfK and TNS, the average casino gambler is a forty-five-year-old female from a household with above-average income.