What is a Casino?


A casino, or gaming house, is an establishment for gambling. Its customers gamble by playing games of chance or skill, and the money wagered is either lost or won. Casinos may also offer food and drink, as well as entertainment. In the United States, a casino is usually a standalone building, but in some countries it may be combined with a hotel or restaurant.

Before the mob got its hands on casinos, they were financed by legitimate businessmen who wanted to profit from gambling but had a hard time dealing with its seamy image. The gangsters, on the other hand, made enough from their drug trafficking and extortion rackets to fund Las Vegas, Reno, and other gambling centers. They also had no problem with gambling’s taint, and they became personally involved in the businesses, taking full or partial ownership of casinos and sometimes even influencing the results of games.

Nowadays, casinos are choosy about who they let in the doors. They concentrate on high rollers, who gamble in rooms separate from the main casino floor and whose bets can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. They give these high bettors lavish inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters, reduced-fare transportation, and a host of other perks.

In general, casino patrons are older than the average American and come from households with above-average incomes. Many are women. In 2005, the median age of a casino gambler was forty-six. Critics say that the net effect on a community is negative, because gambling diverts spending from other forms of entertainment and, in the case of compulsive gamblers, can cost the health care system and social services a great deal of money.