What Is a Casino?

In the world of gambling, a casino is an establishment where people can legally gamble by playing games of chance or skill. Most casinos offer a wide variety of games, from traditional table games like poker and blackjack to electronic games such as video slots and keno. In the United States, there are about 3,000 legal casinos. Casinos also operate on Indian reservations, where they are not subject to state antigambling laws.

Gambling is considered a recreational activity by the vast majority of people who visit casinos, whether or not they win. Casinos are a major source of entertainment, and are usually designed around noise and light, with many colors, and elaborate decorations. Some even feature shows and restaurants, in addition to the usual gaming space.

Regardless of the type of game played, most casinos have a mathematical advantage over the players. This advantage, sometimes called the house edge, can be very small—lower than two percent—but it adds up over time. In addition, casinos often take a percentage of the money bet by customers, known as a vig or rake.

The typical casino patron is an older person with a higher income. According to the American Gaming Association, about 51 million people—a quarter of all Americans over 21—visited a casino in 2002. These visitors spend billions of dollars on hotel rooms, food and drink, entertainment, and gambling. Casinos are also a major source of revenue for state governments, as they collect taxes on the gambling money that is bet.