What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that features a variety of games of chance. It may also include restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and other amenities designed to attract patrons. Unlike lotteries and Internet gambling, casinos involve direct interaction with other gamblers and an atmosphere of excitement and glamor. Some of the most famous casinos in the world are located in Las Vegas, but they can also be found in Europe at places such as Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden.

In the late 1970s, as Atlantic City began permitting casinos, several states amended their antigambling laws to permit casino gambling. Various Native American tribes also opened casinos, many on riverboats. During the 1990s, casino gambling expanded rapidly throughout the United States. It now is legal in 29 states.

The first casinos offered a simple assortment of table and slot machines, but the industry has since grown to include more sophisticated gambling activities. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can monitor every corner of a casino at once, while computer chips attached to betting cards and roulette wheels allow casinos to oversee the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute and warn immediately if there are any statistical deviations.

Most casino games have a built-in advantage for the house, which can be as low as two percent. This edge, combined with the millions of bets placed each year by casino patrons, is how casinos make their profits and allows them to build extravagant hotels, fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.