A casino is a facility where patrons wager money and win prizes by playing games of chance or skill. The games may include slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, keno, and poker. Casinos are licensed and regulated by governments in most countries. Modern casinos offer a variety of gambling options and feature state-of-the-art technology. They are also known for their lavish amenities and entertainment offerings.
Most casino games have a built in mathematical advantage for the house, which is reflected in the odds of winning or losing. This edge, which can be lower than two percent, makes the casino profitable over time. This edge is sometimes called the vig or the rake and can vary by game. Casinos also earn money by taking a percentage of the money wagered on video poker machines.
While many people associate the term casino with Las Vegas, there are casinos all over the world. From the glittering resorts on the Las Vegas strip to the illegal pai gow parlors in New York’s Chinatown, most casinos are found near large population centers. In fact, 51 million people visited a casino in 2002—that’s a quarter of all Americans over the age of 21.
Casino security is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The latter employs a combination of cameras, closed circuit television (CCTV), and sophisticated computer monitoring systems. The systems monitor the patterns of play and the expected reactions and motions of players to detect any irregularity.