A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons place bets on games of chance, in some cases with an element of skill. Most games have a built in statistical advantage for the casino, which is called the house edge. The house edge can be very small, such as less than two percent for video poker, but it can also be higher, as in blackjack or baccarat. Casinos make money by taking a percentage of bets, known as the vig or rake, and also by giving out free items to some players, known as comps.
The modern casino industry has many different types of casinos, from very large Las Vegas resorts to smaller local clubs that serve a specific population. Most casinos offer a variety of casino table games and a full range of slot machines. In addition, some casinos feature traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan.
Casinos are often heavily guarded, with a dedicated security force and specialized surveillance equipment. The security forces patrol the casino floor, responding to calls for help or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. Specialized surveillance departments are usually able to monitor the entire casino through banks of cameras that can be directed to focus on specific tables, chairs or other features of the casino.
The casino as a modern institution dates back to the 16th century, when it first became popular in Europe during a period of intense gambling mania. It was also during this time that the word “casino” evolved, from its original meaning of a small Italian clubhouse for social gatherings to its current sense of a place where people can find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof.