What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that features games of chance and sometimes skill. Its luxurious interiors are designed to stimulate bettors and encourage them to spend money by offering a variety of entertainment and food options. Many casinos feature stage shows, lighted fountains and dramatic scenery to lure customers. A few casinos are housed in enormous resorts, while others are on cruise ships or in standalone buildings. Casinos are operated by private companies, investors and Native American tribes. They bring in billions of dollars each year for their owners and employees. They also generate revenue for state and local governments by taxes and fees paid by their patrons.

Most casino games have a mathematically determined advantage for the house, which can be expressed as an expected value or by its variance. The casino makes its profit from the players’ bets, or a percentage of their total bets, known as a rake. Casinos may also offer games of chance where the outcome is not predetermined, such as blackjack and roulette.

Since the 1990s, technology has dramatically increased casino security. Electronic surveillance systems monitor every table, window and doorway; in some casinos, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to enable the casino to oversee the precise amount wagered minute by minute and to quickly discover any statistical deviation from expected results. In addition, sophisticated video cameras have given rise to “eye-in-the-sky” technologies that can watch the movements of every patron in a room. This system can be adjusted by security workers in a control room to focus on suspicious behavior or to follow a particular player.