What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment in which people wager money on games of chance or skill. Some casinos also offer other forms of entertainment, such as live music or shows. People can gamble for real money or tokens, which are collected by dealers and returned to players as winnings. The casinos make their profit by taking a share of the money bet or charging an hourly fee for games such as poker and blackjack. A casino may also give complimentary items or comps to gamblers.

According to the American Gaming Association, about 51 million people—about one quarter of the population over 21—visited a casino in 2002. In the past, casinos relied on perks such as floor shows and all-you-can-eat buffets to draw in customers. Today, some casinos offer a more luxurious experience, offering golf and spa services in addition to casino games. For instance, the Bellagio in Las Vegas features a branch of New York’s prestigious Le Cirque restaurant and Hermes and Chanel boutiques.

Most casinos have built-in advantages that ensure the house will always win, known as the “house edge.” In games where the house has an advantage over the players, the casino earns a share of the money bet or charges an hourly fee for games such as poker, baccarat and blackjack. Other types of casino games include video poker, roulette and craps. Casinos also use technology to monitor and supervise games. For example, roulette wheels are electronically monitored minute-by-minute to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results; and “chip tracking” systems allow casinos to track the exact amount of each bet as it is placed.

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