What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers customers the opportunity to play games of chance and, in some cases, skill. In the United States, most casinos offer a variety of table games, including poker, baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. Some casinos also offer video poker and other machine games. Some casinos have extensive amenities, such as hotels and spas.

The word “casino” comes from Italian, meaning “house.” Originally, it was used to refer to a public hall for music and dancing. By the second half of the 19th century, it was common to use it to describe a collection of gaming or gambling rooms.

Casinos make money by charging players a fee, known as the vig or rake, in addition to the house advantage built into most games. This advantage is usually lower than two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by patrons. The revenue is enough to finance glitzy hotels, towers, fountains and replicas of famous landmarks.

Security in a casino starts on the floor, where casino employees keep their eyes on the games and the patrons to make sure everything is as it should be. Dealers are trained to spot blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the game, noticing betting patterns that may signal cheating.

Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” to help security personnel monitor all of the activities at once. Cameras mounted in the ceiling can be focused on individual tables, windows and doorways. Some cameras can even be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. Casinos also reward frequent and large bettors with free hotel rooms, meals and show tickets.