A casino is a place where people can play games of chance for money. Most casinos offer a wide variety of gambling activities, including poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. They may also have restaurants, bars, and stage shows.
In the United States, about 51 million people—a quarter of all Americans over 21—visited a casino in 2002. Many of them traveled to Nevada, where casinos are concentrated along the Las Vegas Strip. Others went to other legal casinos in Iowa, Atlantic City, or elsewhere.
Casinos make their money by charging fees for admission and maximizing the volume of gambling revenue they can generate. To encourage gamblers to spend more, they provide perks like free hotel rooms, meals, and show tickets. Many also offer special cards that give players discounts or comps.
Although some casino games involve skill, most are based on chance and have mathematically determined odds that favor the house (the institution that runs the casino). Casinos must pay out winnings to customers in order to stay in business. In addition, they must pay for the equipment, staff, and building itself. Therefore, casinos must charge enough to cover all these costs and still make a profit. This is sometimes referred to as the house edge or “house advantage.” In a game like poker, where players compete against each other, the casino takes a commission called the rake. In other games, such as craps or roulette, the house gains an advantage by limiting how much it pays out to winners.