The word casino, a variation of the word kasino (Spanish for “gambling house”), can refer to any establishment offering certain types of gambling. Often casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. In American usage, the term is most often applied to the gambling establishments in Las Vegas, although a large number of casinos exist outside the city, including on many Native American reservations and in European cities such as Monaco. In addition to the usual gaming tables, slots and other machines, most casinos also offer floor shows and various other forms of entertainment.

Most casino games are based on chance, with some having an element of skill, such as poker or craps. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels may draw customers, the billions of dollars in profits raked in each year by casinos come from gambling alone. Casinos rely on games such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps to make money from patrons by imposing an advantage over them that can be as low as 1 percent. This is a profit margin known as the house edge. In addition, casinos take a percentage of the action in games such as poker and baccarat by taking a commission on bets, which is known as rake.

In the United States, casinos have become the most popular form of gambling, with about 51 million people—a quarter of adults over the age of 21—visiting a casino in 2002. They can range from the glamorous Las Vegas strip to illegal pai gow parlors in New York’s Chinatown, as well as places like Macau in East Asia that are called “Monte Carlo of the East.” While most of these casinos are legal, some were built during the era when gambling was outlawed or heavily restricted.