A Casino is an establishment that allows customers to gamble by playing games of chance, or in some cases games with skill. These may include table games, such as blackjack, craps and roulette; mechanical devices such as slot machines and video poker; or games against other players, such as poker and baccarat.

Casinos make money by charging a fee to players to cover the cost of operations, or “vig”, and by taking a percentage of winnings in games such as poker where players compete against the house. These fees and vig give the casinos a mathematical edge over patrons. This advantage is small (less than two percent), but over the millions of bets placed by patrons each year, it adds up. Casinos often use this profit to offer extravagant inducements to big bettors, such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters and transportation.

Casinos also contribute to local economies, but critics point out that this is offset by the costs of treating problem gambling and by a loss of productivity from the money spent at casinos by those who are addicted to gambling. In addition, studies have found that casinos do not generate the economic gains attributed to them in tourism literature. In the United States, a number of states have legalized casinos. Despite this, many jurisdictions still prohibit them, or limit their operation to Native American casinos. In Europe, the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden was a playground for European royalty and the aristocracy 150 years ago, and was declared the most beautiful casino in the world by Marlene Dietrich.