A casino, or gaming house, is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of gambling games. These include slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. In addition to these games, casinos often offer a variety of live entertainment and top-notch hotels, spas and restaurants.

In the United States, more than 51 million people—a quarter of all American adults over 21—visited a casino in 2005. Most of these visitors were females, from households with above-average incomes and a lot of time on their hands. In the early part of this century, casinos were largely family-owned and operated, and they primarily offered a few basic types of games. Today, the modern casino is more like an indoor amusement park for adults, with music shows and lighted fountains drawing the crowds. But most of the billions in profits raked in by casinos each year still come from games of chance.

Casinos have several built-in advantages that ensure they will always win more money than they lose. These advantages, called the house edge, apply to every game in a casino. A casino’s goal is to keep gamblers in the building for as long as possible, and the perks they offer can be extremely attractive, especially to big spenders.

Because of this, casino design is usually centered around noise, light and excitement. There are no clocks in casino buildings, for example, and the floors and walls are often designed with bright and sometimes gaudy colors that stimulate the senses and make it hard to notice the passing of time. Drinks are also free or very cheap, because tipsy gamblers are not as good at gambling.