What Is a Casino?

After Goodfellas had made its mark in the world of gangster cinema, Scorsese followed up with Casino, a darker, more violent riff on gangster life. The result was a resounding box office hit, and it launched the careers of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci as Hollywood icons.

A casino is a public place where games of chance are played, particularly those that involve a large sum of money. Many casinos add extras to lure gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks, and stage shows. Some have a high ceiling and no windows near the gaming area to block out the outside world, while others use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings to stimulate and cheer gamblers. It is also common to see no clocks on casino walls, since the gambling experience tends to make people lose track of time.

Casinos typically have a mathematical advantage over players, known as the house edge. This mathematical advantage is reflected in the odds of each game and the percentage of total funds lost by the casino. Casinos are required to post these odds on their games, and they must offer some degree of compensation to encourage gamblers to keep playing. This is commonly in the form of free spectacular entertainment, transportation, and elegant living quarters for big bettors.

In 2005, the typical casino patron was a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. It is estimated that more than half of all casino gamblers are women, while the other half are men. Casinos are often designed to be social environments where gamblers interact with each other, and some games, such as blackjack and poker, require some level of skill.