A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of games. It may also offer dining, entertainment, and accommodations.
In the twenty-first century, casinos have become more choosy about who they let play there. They tend to concentrate their investments on high-stakes gamblers, known as “high rollers.” These people often spend tens of thousands of dollars or more per visit. In return, the casinos give these patrons extravagant inducements. These can include free or reduced-fare transportation, lavish living quarters (including private jets), and spectacular entertainment. Less expensive comps are also offered to smaller spenders.
Although gambling is primarily a game of chance, there is some skill involved in the various casino games. Some, like roulette and baccarat, require the player to place bets; others, such as blackjack and poker, allow the players to interact with one another. The casino profits from the money placed on these games by taking a percentage of each bet, which is called the house edge.
Despite the obvious appeal of casino gambling, many localities are hesitant to permit them. The economic impact is seen as negative, with casino revenue drawing away from other forms of local entertainment and diverting local spending to gambling; the cost of treating problem gambling and lost productivity from gambling addicts cancels out any community benefits. Even so, the number of people visiting casinos is growing rapidly. In 2002 alone, 51 million people–a quarter of the population over 21 in the United States–visited a casino.