What is a Casino?

A casino is a building where people gamble and play games of chance. Many states have laws regulating gambling and a few allow casinos on Indian reservations or in other venues not subject to state anti-gambling laws. In the United States, casinos are mostly located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They are also popular in European cities such as London and Paris and on the Caribbean islands.

The name casino is a portmanteau of the French word for “house” and the Italian word for “fun.” Casinos make money by charging an edge to players who bet against the house, a small percentage that earns millions in bets over time. The vig or rake can be very low (less than two percent) or high depending on the game and the amount of bets made. Combined with other income from food, drink and souvenirs, the casino’s advantage can create a huge profit over time.

Casinos devote a large amount of effort and money to security. Most modern casinos have a physical security force that patrols the casino floor and a specialized surveillance department. The latter often uses a camera system that resembles a “eye in the sky” and can be directed to focus on suspicious patrons. The cameras can also be used to monitor a particular table or a group of patrons, to check for betting patterns that might indicate cheating.

Something about gambling seems to encourage people to cheat, steal or scam their way into a jackpot instead of trying to win by random chance. This explains why casinos spend so much on security. In addition to cameras and monitors, casinos use other technology. For example, some tables have betting chips with microcircuitry that lets them track the exact amounts being wagered minute by minute and warn employees if someone is cheating.