What Is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are also known for hosting live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy, concerts and sports events.

A casino’s primary function is to make money, and it does so by exploiting the built-in mathematical expectancy advantage that every game has in favor of the house. This is called the “house edge” and, over time, it adds up to substantial profits for casinos.

Casinos try to lure gamblers by offering perks like free food and drinks. These might get people intoxicated and distracted from their betting, but they also help them keep playing, which increases the amount of money they will lose. In addition, casinos use chips instead of actual money to reduce the likelihood that players will become concerned about their losing bets.

Gambling is a social activity, and it is designed around noise, light and excitement. It has been a part of human civilization for millennia, with evidence of dice games dating back to 2300 BC and card games appearing in the 1400s. It is estimated that in 2002, about 51 million people, or about a quarter of all adults over 21, visited a casino domestically. The casino industry has been growing steadily ever since.