What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers customers games of chance or skill. Often, casinos feature entertainment and performances, and are known for their luxurious and elegant decor. They are located throughout the United States, from massive resorts in Las Vegas to tiny mountain towns with 19th century Wild West buildings that house poker tables and slot machines.

In the United States, casinos generate billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that operate them. Moreover, state and local governments receive substantial tax revenues from casino gaming. These funds are a major source of revenue for many cities and towns, especially in California where casino gambling is legal.

The casino industry is extremely profitable because most casino games have a built-in mathematical advantage for the casino, which is called the house edge. This advantage can be very small (less than two percent) but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by casino patrons each day. This profit margin enables casinos to offer big bettors extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment and transportation, and free hotel rooms and meals. Casinos also generate revenue from their slot machine machines by taking a percentage of the bets they accept, which is called the vig or rake.

Modern casinos employ a physical security force to patrol the floor and a specialized surveillance department that operates their closed circuit television system, known as the eye in the sky. This system enables security personnel to monitor the entire casino, or select areas to focus on. Moreover, the cameras are often adjusted to zoom in on particular patrons when they are suspected of committing a crime or otherwise engaging in suspicious activity.

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