What Is a Casino?


A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons can wager on various games of chance or skill. Several jurisdictions regulate the operation of casinos. The largest concentration of casinos is in the Las Vegas valley, with additional large facilities in Atlantic City and Chicago. Some casinos also offer a range of other entertainment activities, such as restaurants, bars and theaters.

Most casinos make money by charging a commission on bets, called the house edge or vigorish. This is generally calculated as a percentage of the total amount wagered. In some games, such as blackjack and video poker, the house advantage is less than 2 percent; in others, it is higher.

Some casinos also earn income from comps, or complimentary goods and services, offered to frequent gamblers. These may include free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets or reduced-fare transportation. Comps are based on the amount of time and money a player spends at the casino, and can be arranged by asking a dealer or a casino information desk for assistance.

During the Prohibition era, organized crime groups funded many casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, taking sole or partial ownership and establishing a reputation for violence. After the repeal of prohibition, casino owners looked for ways to expand their businesses and increase profits. Using money from their rackets, mafia members became involved in the operations of some casinos, becoming involved in illegal business practices and often threatening to physically harm staff if they did not get their way.

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