A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It can be combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. It may also host live entertainment such as stand-up comedy and concerts. In addition, some casinos are known for their luxurious accommodations and facilities such as spas, swimming pools and fitness centers. The casino industry is a multibillion dollar business and is considered a major source of income for many countries.
In the United States, where more than half of all casino gambling takes place, over a million people are employed by approximately 900 casinos. The majority of these are located in Nevada, where a dozen Strip casinos generate more than $40 billion per year. The remaining casinos can be found in 37 other states, plus the District of Columbia. The majority of casinos in the United States are small, family-owned and operated.
Although some casinos feature musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels, the vast majority of their profits—and the reason why people gamble—comes from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other casino games provide the billions of dollars in revenue that make casinos one of the world’s most profitable businesses.
While some casino games are purely luck, others have an element of skill. In any game, the house has a built-in advantage over the players, referred to as the “house edge.” This advantage can be expressed mathematically as the expected value of a bet. In games of chance, the house edge is a constant; in games with an element of skill, it can vary.
A casino’s security depends on the integrity of its employees and on the careful observation of patrons to spot suspicious behavior. Security personnel are trained to look for a wide range of cheating techniques, from blatantly obvious palming and marking to more subtle betting patterns. Each employee has a higher-up supervisor who watches them work and notes whether their actions are consistent with their training.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, for example, is famous for its high-stakes table games and its perks for big spenders, known as “comps.” These include free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets. These are designed to encourage gamblers to spend more money than they intend to, and thus generate more revenue for the casino. High-stakes gamblers are often invited to play in special rooms separate from the main casino floor, where the stakes can be tens of thousands of dollars or more. These are usually reserved for the very best and most frequent gamblers, who are rewarded for their loyalty with special treatment.