What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment, or gambling house, where people can gamble. Most casinos are located in or near hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruise ships, and tourist attractions. Some casinos are built as standalone buildings; others are combined with other types of entertainment venues, such as a concert hall or a shopping mall.

From a tiny pai gow table in New York’s Chinatown to the megacasinos of Las Vegas and Macau, these institutions attract visitors from around the world. They offer everything from floor shows to gourmet restaurants. Your grandmother, for example, might enjoy taking weekend bus trips to the nearest casino with her friends.

A casino’s main source of revenue comes from the house edge, a statistical advantage that is built into the games offered by the casino. These advantages may be small—typically less than two percent—but over millions of bets they add up. The money from this “vig” gives casinos enough income to build elaborate hotel-casinos, with fountains, giant pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

The mob once controlled many of these operations, but federal crackdowns on organized crime and the fear of losing a casino’s license at even the slightest hint of Mafia involvement pushed mobsters out of the business. Now real estate investors and hotel chains with deeper pockets control many casinos. Donald Trump owns several casinos, and the Hilton hotel company is a major owner. Many of these newer casinos are much bigger than their predecessors, and they boast hotel rooms, restaurants, non-gambling game rooms, bars and countless other amenities.