What Is a Casino?


A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops or cruise ships and may also offer a range of entertainment activities. Some casinos are known for their extensive collection of classic and contemporary slot machines, while others feature a variety of table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps and video poker.

In general, casinos make their money by taking a percentage of bets made by players. The amount of the bets and the frequency with which they are placed determines the casino’s gross revenue, or GR. The GR is then used to pay the casino’s staff, maintain the casino grounds and cover other expenses. In the United States, federal and state governments regulate casinos.

Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, security is a major concern. Both patrons and employees are tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or independently, so most casinos spend considerable time and effort on security. Cameras and other surveillance equipment are the most obvious security measures, but many casinos also have strict rules about what players can and cannot do. For example, players at card games must keep their cards visible at all times, and some casinos have catwalks built into the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look down directly on the tables and slot machines from above.

While most casinos are located in cities or towns, there are a few that are isolated and accessible only by air or sea. For example, the Elk Valley Casino in Murphy, North Carolina is located two hours north of Atlanta and features a 75,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,700 Las Vegas-style slot machines and more than 70 table games including American and European roulette, blackjack, baccarat and three-card poker. It is home to the World Series of Poker, which first took place there in 2004.

Gambling is an activity that has been part of almost every society throughout history in one form or another. People have always wanted to try their luck at winning something, especially if it has a high value. Although it is impossible to know when the first casino opened, there are records of casinos in most societies from ancient Mesopotamia and Rome to Napoleon’s France and Elizabethan England.

Even though the gambling industry has grown enormously, it is important to remember that a casino only brings in profits when gamblers are compulsive. Studies show that the net impact on a community is negative, because people who gamble tend to spend less money at other local businesses; they are also likely to miss work and incur health care costs. In addition, the economic loss due to problem gambling is often greater than the casino’s profit. As a result, some governments prohibit or restrict casino gambling. Others encourage it, allowing casinos to operate only in specific geographic areas or on reservations. In the United States, tribal casinos are becoming increasingly common.