A casino, also known as a gambling establishment or a gaming room, is an entertainment venue which features a variety of games of chance for customers to gamble in. Historically, casinos were owned by mob families, but in the last few decades real estate investors and hotel chains bought them out, removing the possibility of mob interference and allowing the casinos to operate legally.
Modern casinos are like indoor amusement parks for adults, and while musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers draw people in, they wouldn’t exist without the billions of dollars that customers spend on slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other gambling games. The games of chance provide the excitement that attracts customers, but they also make up a significant percentage of the profits for casino owners.
Most casino games have a mathematically determined advantage for the house, or vigorish, over the players; this is known as the “house edge”. Some games allow for skill-based play, and players who can eliminate the house edge are called “advantage players.” Casino mathematicians use sophisticated computer programs to determine the optimal strategy for each game.
Given the large amounts of money that change hands within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal. This is why casino security is such an important aspect of the business. Dealers are trained to look for blatant signs of cheating, including palming cards or marking dice, and pit bosses can spot betting patterns that could indicate collusion among patrons. Casinos also have elaborate surveillance systems, sometimes with catwalks in the ceiling that allow security personnel to look down on each table and slot machine from a central location.