What Is a Casino?


A casino, or gambling house, is a place where people gamble. Casino games vary from traditional table games like blackjack and roulette to electronic gaming machines such as video poker and slot machines. Casinos can be found around the world, both on land and in water. Some are large resorts with hotels, restaurants, and entertainment centers; others are small standalone buildings or card rooms. People may also play casino-type games at racetracks, which are sometimes called racinos. In the United States, casinos are legalized in many states. Successful casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that own them, as well as state and local governments that levy taxes and fees on them.

Unlike home gambling, which often involves just one person playing against the house, casino gaming is a social activity. Typically, the game is played in groups, with patrons shouting encouragement or offering tips to each other. Casinos are designed around noise, light, and excitement to encourage gambling. Alcoholic drinks are served and waiters circulate to take patrons’ orders. Casinos also feature stage shows and dramatic scenery to create a sense of adventure and excitement.

Despite the high revenues generated by some casino operators, critics argue that their net impact on a community is negative. These critics point to studies that show that compulsive gamblers generate a disproportionate amount of casino profits, and that the money spent treating problem gamblers negates any economic benefits a casino might produce.