A casino is a gambling establishment that houses a variety of games of chance. It may be large and opulent like the ones in Las Vegas, or it might be small and intimate such as those found in a hotel in Baden-Baden. In either case, the ambiance is designed to maximize the enjoyment of the patrons by giving them a sense of luxury and wealth. This is achieved through carefully chosen decor, a minimum of distractions and a minimal awareness of the passage of time.

Regardless of size or atmosphere, all casinos earn their profits by taking a cut of the action from the players. In the case of table games, this is done by taking a percentage of all bets made. In poker and other games where the players compete against each other, it is done by raking (taking a commission on every bet). In all cases, the house always has a slight advantage over the players.

Casinos bring in billions of dollars a year for the investors, corporations and Native American tribes that operate them. They also generate a great deal of tax revenue for state and local governments. But economic studies indicate that casinos shift spending away from other forms of entertainment and that compulsive gambling erodes community morale and productivity. As such, critics argue that the net value of casinos is negative.