What’s in a Casino?


The word casino means gambling house, but the establishments that take that name are a lot more than places to risk money or other valuables. They usually include restaurants, hotels and other amenities that cater to people looking for an elegant, luxurious experience. They also employ a wide range of security measures to protect patrons and prevent illegal activities like cheating, theft and bribery.

According to the American Gaming Association, 51 million Americans (about a quarter of adults over 21) visited casinos in 2002. That’s an enormous number, considering that casinos are everywhere from the Las Vegas strip to illegal pai gow parlors in New York City’s Chinatown. And even though they vary in size, décor and rules, all casinos try to do the same thing: draw people in and make them feel as if they’re on an exciting adventure.

That’s why many casinos have elaborate interior design, with lush carpets and well-designed lighting. Most of the time, a huge prize, such as a sports car or a yacht, is displayed prominently to lure gamblers in. Then there are the luxuries, which can include anything from stage shows to free drinks to exotic locations.

Most games of chance have some element of skill, but the odds are always in favor of the house. This advantage is mathematically determined and is known as the house edge. In some cases, such as poker, the house gains an additional profit from a commission on each bet, which is known as rake.