What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casino games are primarily chance-based, but some have an element of skill. In addition to slot machines and table games, casinos often feature entertainment such as live music and shows. Some casinos are operated by governments, while others are private businesses. In the United States, casino gambling is regulated by state laws. Casinos are sometimes combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and other attractions to form a resort destination.

Gambling has been a part of human culture for millennia, with evidence of dice playing dating back to 2300 BC, and card games appearing soon thereafter. Modern casinos continue to develop and grow, with a focus on customer service and amenities that appeal to the broadest possible range of visitors. These may include spa services, golf courses, and other recreational activities. Some casinos also offer free or discounted items to gamblers, known as comps.

Casinos earn billions of dollars each year for their owners, investors, and shareholders, as well as for local, state, and federal governments that tax them. They are also a major source of employment. Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To counteract this, most casinos employ a variety of security measures.

Besides security personnel, they use cameras to monitor all aspects of gaming activity, from the amount of money wagered to the outcomes of individual games. Casinos also rely on mathematical calculations, called house edges and variance (the standard deviation of the expected return), to determine how much they should invest in each game to ensure a reasonable profit. Mathematicians and computer programmers employed by casinos in this field are referred to as gaming analysts.