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What is a Casino?


A casino is a place where people can play games of chance and win money. It can be as simple as a public building that houses gambling activities or as extravagant as the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Some casinos combine several elements such as hotels, restaurants and stage shows. The earliest casino was probably a private members club called a gaming house. The word ‘casino’ is also used for the games themselves, which include poker, dice, roulette, blackjack and video poker. In the twentieth century, the popularity of these games has grown tremendously. In 2002, it was estimated that 51 million Americans, or a quarter of the population over 21, visited a casino.

The games themselves vary, but all casinos have a built in advantage for the house. This is usually a small percentage, but over the long run it adds up. In some cases, skill can overcome the house edge, such as in poker, where players compete against each other. In other cases, such as in the game of craps or roulette, the house has a fixed advantage that cannot be overcome.

The house edge is usually offset by a commission taken by the casino, known as the rake. Alternatively, it may be offset by complimentary goods and services given to gamblers, known as comps. These can include free hotel rooms, meals and tickets to shows, as well as limo service and airline tickets for high rollers. In addition to attracting and keeping patrons, these promotional materials help promote the brand and increase profits.