A casino (sometimes referred to as a gaming house or a gambling establishment) is an institution for the conduct of gambling. Its name is derived from the Latin caino, meaning “house.” It is most commonly associated with Las Vegas and other entertainment destinations for the public to gamble, drink, and enjoy live entertainment. However, casinos can also be found in many cities and towns and are often combined with hotels and other forms of entertainment or are built into resorts or cruise ships.
Most casinos are supervised and secured by cameras and other electronic technology. For example, chips in table games have microcircuitry that interacts with electronic systems to monitor the exact amounts wagered minute by minute, and alert casino security if there is any statistical deviation from expected results. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored and can be adjusted to focus on certain suspicious patrons, while slot machines are programmed to pay out according to a random algorithm. Casinos are also staffed with employees who watch tables and other game play to detect cheating or collusion.
Something about gambling encourages people to lie, steal and scam their way into a jackpot, which is why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security. For example, some casinos have catwalks above the casino floor that allow security personnel to look down on the activities of table players and slot machine operators through one-way glass. These cameras can be focused on specific patrons or aimed at entire sections of the casino to monitor suspicious activity.
Casinos earn their profits by taking a cut of the money bet on their games, which is known as the vig or the rake. Although this percentage may seem small, it adds up over the millions of bets placed by casino patrons each year. This allows the casino to cover its operating expenses and build spectacular hotels, fountains, pyramids and towers.
In the twentieth century, casinos began expanding to international markets. They are now a common feature of tourist destinations in cities around the world, and some countries have even passed laws to make them legal.
Casinos offer a variety of games to appeal to different types of gamblers. Table games, such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette, are popular in many casinos. Other popular table games include poker and video poker, as well as keno. Many casinos offer sports betting and racetracks. In the past, mobster involvement in casinos was a major concern, but after the mafia’s decline and the introduction of modern casino games with lower house edges, legitimate businesses such as hotel chains and real estate investors have jumped into the industry, buying out the mobsters and running casinos without mob interference. Some of these companies, such as Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel chain, have made billions of dollars through their casino business. While mob influence remains a concern in some states, regulatory agencies are increasingly cracking down on criminal activity in casinos.