What is a Casino?

A Casino is a gambling establishment offering the public a variety of games of chance and in some cases skill. It is often a glamorous institution, romanticized in film and literature with images of high stakes gambling tables and patrons in tuxedos or evening gowns. But beneath the varnish of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos are a business, designed to slowly bleed their customers of cash. They have a number of built-in advantages, known as the house edge, that ensure that the casino will always win in the long run.

Aside from the obvious revenue generated by food, drinks, and entertainment, a significant portion of casino revenues is derived from the actual game play. In games that have a certain degree of skill, players can reduce the house advantage by understanding and applying basic strategy. However, this skill is not a panacea for the casino and can only reduce the house edge to a small extent.

Most casino games are games of chance with an element of skill, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, video poker and the like. The house has an advantage in these games, which is mathematically determined and varies from one game to the next. In some games, the house makes its profit through a commission charged to the player, such as in poker where the rake is usually around 10% of the pot. Occasionally, the casino will also earn money through its own operations, such as running its own racetrack or hosting a sports betting event.