What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment offering various kinds of gaming machines and games. In addition to slot machines and table games, many casinos also offer video poker, arcade games, and other entertainment activities. Some casinos have theaters for live performances. The term casino may also refer to a gaming area outside a building, or to a group of buildings housing such machines and games.

In the United States, casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. The majority of American casinos are located in Nevada and New Jersey, with a few scattered across the country in other states. In the 1980s and ’90s, casinos began appearing on Native American reservations. This expansion led to a legal challenge and the formation of a commission charged with overseeing casino regulation.

Every casino game has a mathematically determined house edge, which is the net loss to the casino expected over long-term play (without using advanced skills such as card counting). The edge for each game varies; for example, blackjack has an advantage of less than one percent, while baccarat and craps have slightly higher edges. Casinos generate income by charging a percentage of winnings to players, or through a rake in games such as poker where players compete against each other.

Given the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with others or independently. To prevent these types of activity, casinos employ a variety of security measures. These range from manned surveillance cameras to sophisticated systems such as “chip tracking,” in which betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that interacts with the electronic tables to oversee the exact amount wagered minute-by-minute, and warn of any anomalies.