A casino (from the French word for “house”) is an establishment for gambling. Modern casinos are a form of entertainment and can be found in many cities, towns and states. They feature a wide variety of games such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and slot machines. In addition to a gaming floor, many casinos have restaurants, shopping centers and hotel accommodations. They also offer live entertainment, such as musical shows and comedy acts.
Despite their glamorous appearance and the millions of dollars in profits they rake in, casinos aren’t really much more than indoor amusement parks for adults. Musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotels draw the crowds, but it’s gambling that drives the revenues.
Every game in a casino has a built-in mathematical advantage for the house. The edge can be small, less than two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed each day. To offset this, casinos take a commission from each bet, known as the vig or rake. In games such as poker where players play against each other, the house takes a percentage of each hand’s winnings, usually about five percent.
Most casinos comp, or give away, free goods and services to frequent patrons. Gamblers can earn comps by swiping their player’s card before each game, which allows the casino to track their usage and spending habits. In 2005, Harrah’s found that the typical casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. Comps can include free food and drink, rooms, show tickets and limo service for big spenders.