A casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance and the opportunity to win real money. Casinos offer many amenities to attract gamblers, including restaurants and free drinks, but the bulk of the revenues come from games like blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, keno and slot machines. Casinos can also feature stage shows and dramatic scenery. Some casinos are known for their elegance and sophistication; for example, the Bellagio in Las Vegas is famous for its dancing fountains, luxury accommodations and breath-taking art installations. Others are more notorious for their mob ties and connections to illegal activities; in fact, some casinos were founded by organized crime figures.
Although there are no hard statistics on the number of people who visit casinos, it is estimated that at least 51 million Americans (and probably more) visited one in 2002. These visitors range from the glitzy hotel-casinos of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow tables of New York’s Chinatown. In addition, there are many more casinos located on Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws, and some in countries where gaming is legal, such as Macau.
While the majority of casino visitors are not gamblers, casinos rely on them for their revenue. Unlike lotteries, where players place bets against the house, casino games such as blackjack, poker, roulette and baccarat have a built in advantage for the house. This edge, while relatively small, earns the casino millions of dollars in profits each year.