What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that allows customers to place bets on various games of chance. Most casinos feature a variety of table games, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, and poker. Some also offer video slots and other electronic games. A casino may also have one or more bars and restaurants. In some countries, casinos are licensed and regulated by government agencies. A number of states in the United States have legalized casinos.

Something about gambling (perhaps the presence of large amounts of money) seems to encourage cheating and stealing, so casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. Many casinos have a dedicated security force as well as specialized surveillance departments. The former patrol the floor and respond to calls for assistance or reports of definite criminal activity; the latter monitor the casinos’ closed circuit television systems, known as the eye-in-the-sky. The systems allow casino security to watch individual players and their betting habits minute-by-minute, so that any deviation from the expected is quickly detected.

Casinos make money by charging a percentage of each bet, which is often called the vig or rake. This may seem like a small amount, but over millions of bets it adds up. In addition to the vig, casinos earn money by giving players “comps”—free food, drinks and other items. In the past, casinos offered these to attract as many people as possible to their properties and maximize gambling revenue.