What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for gambling. Some casinos are built as separate buildings; others are integrated into hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. There are also floating casinos on boats and barges, and casino-type games are offered in some racetracks (racinos).

Casinos make their money by generating billions of dollars in revenue for owners, investors, and state and local governments. They draw in tourists and generate employment, but critics argue that casino revenue shifts spending away from other forms of entertainment and that the costs of treating problem gambling are disproportionate to any economic benefits.

Some casinos are devoted to one particular game, such as roulette or poker. Others offer a variety of games, including craps, blackjack, and video poker. The rules of each game vary, but in all cases the house has a built-in statistical advantage, known as the vig or rake. The size of the vig can vary by game, but most casinos calculate it in percentage terms and impose it on all bets, both big and small.

Casinos often reward loyal players with “comps” – free goods or services, such as hotel rooms, dinners, tickets to shows, and even limo service and airline tickets. In addition, they monitor their patrons’ activity closely, looking for any anomalies that could indicate cheating or other irregularities. In the United States, the federal government regulates casino gambling. In most states, the only legal way to gamble is at a licensed casino.