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What Is a Casino?

A casino, also known as a gambling establishment or card room, is a place where people can play various games of chance for money. Most casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. In the United States, there are over 40 states that offer some form of casino gambling. Some states prohibit casino-type gambling, while others endorse it and regulate it. In the past, casinos often were run by organized crime groups, but in the modern era they are more likely to be owned and operated by hotel chains or real estate investors.

Casinos make money by charging a commission on winning bets or a percentage of the total amount wagered, called the vig (or rake). Most casino games have a built-in statistical advantage for the house, which may be small – less than two percent – but can add up over time. Casinos also earn revenue from table service, food and beverage, show tickets and other amenities.

Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, employees and patrons alike are tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To combat this, casinos use a variety of security measures. Cameras monitor the entire facility, betting chips have microcircuitry that interacts with electronic systems to oversee exactly what is being wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any deviation from their expected results. Security personnel also watch players carefully to spot any suspicious behavior. Casinos are also designed without windows and chiming clocks to prevent players from realizing how long or how much they’ve spent on their gambling activities.