A casino is a place where people can gamble. Most casinos offer a variety of gambling activities, and some even have hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and stage shows.
A number of states have passed laws legalizing casino gambling, and many major cities have one or more. There are a few ways to get into a casino: Some casinos are built into or combined with hotels, resorts, or other tourist attractions; others are freestanding buildings. There are also some that offer online casino games.
Casinos earn their money by taking a small percentage of the bets placed by patrons. This advantage can be small (less than two percent), but it adds up over time. It’s enough to keep the casino going, and it allows them to build lavish hotels, fountains, pyramids, towers, and replicas of famous landmarks.
The glitz and glamour of casino gambling has drawn in a worldwide audience. According to the American Gaming Association, around 51 million people–or about a quarter of all adults over age 21–visited a casino in 2002. This figure doesn’t include trips to illegal pai gow parlors or to the dozens of casinos located in foreign countries.
Most casinos have rules governing the behavior of patrons. They’re designed to discourage cheating and stealing, and staff members are trained to spot suspicious activity. Casino patrons may be tempted to cheat, especially when winning is so exciting, but it’s usually not worth the risk of getting caught.