What Is a Casino?

When most people think of a casino, they imagine one of the huge megaresorts of Las Vegas—a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex blazing with neon lights and fun. But there are many other places that house gambling activities and could still technically be called casinos.

The main business of a casino is gambling. While stage shows, lighted fountains and restaurants may help lure visitors, casinos make the majority of their money from games of chance. Slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker, craps and other table games contribute billions in profits each year.

A casino’s profitability depends on several factors. Among them is the house edge, which is the average expected profit per game. This advantage, built into every game, ensures that the casino will make a profit. To counteract the house edge, casinos offer gamblers incentives to play longer. These perks are called comps.

In addition to luring gamblers with comps, casinos use a variety of other tactics to keep them gambling. They choose colors like red, which is thought to cause arousal and encourage betting. They also avoid clocks on the walls, which would remind patrons of time and may make them feel rushed. And they have employees who monitor the players to look for cheating, such as palming or marking cards. Casinos may even have catwalks on the ceiling that allow them to peer down on the tables and slots through one-way glass.