A casino (also known as a gambling house or a gaming hall) is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos offer a variety of games and are often combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos also have live entertainment.
Casinos make their money by charging customers for the right to gamble. Most casino games have a built in advantage for the house, which is usually less than two percent. This edge, sometimes called the vig or rake, gives the casino enough money to pay its employees and cover operating costs. Additional profits are made by charging patrons for drinks, food and entertainment. Casinos also earn money by giving out complimentary items to players, known as comps. These can range from free hotel rooms and meals to show tickets and airline fares. Players can often request comps by contacting the casino host or information desk.
Something about the presence of large amounts of money encourages both patrons and staff to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. This is why casinos spend a significant amount of time and money on security measures. Video cameras placed throughout the facility and high-tech “eyes-in-the-sky” systems that allow surveillance personnel to watch table games and slot machines from a room filled with banks of monitors are examples of casino security technologies.
Because they attract people from all walks of life, casinos try to provide a wide array of games. Some of the more popular include poker, baccarat, craps and roulette. In addition, many casinos feature bingo and other forms of social entertainment. Some casinos are even equipped with theaters where visitors can watch live shows.
In the United States, most casinos are located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In 2008, 24% of American adults reported visiting a casino. Generally, the percentage of adults who visited a casino increased with higher incomes. In comparison, only 20% of Americans earning under $35,000 per year reported gambling in a casino.
Although some people view casinos as an effective way to reduce stress and boredom, others argue that the ill effects of addiction and other psychological problems are more serious than the financial benefits. Some critics point out that, by diverting local spending away from other entertainment options, casinos may actually decrease overall community economic activity. Other critics point out that the tax revenue generated by a casino is often less than what is received in services such as education, medical care and public safety. In addition, the money spent treating gambling addictions offsets any net revenue gained by the casino. In the end, however, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not gambling is a suitable form of recreation.