A casino is a gambling establishment offering a variety of games of chance to its patrons. It is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, and is found throughout the United States and in many other countries. Casinos range from small, local establishments to large, luxury hotels. Some casinos are built in spectacular locations, such as those that overlook major cities or famous natural landmarks like Niagara Falls.
Generally, casinos earn their money by taking a percentage of the total amount of bets placed, known as the house edge or vigorish. The size of the house edge depends on the game; it is larger for games with skill, such as blackjack and baccarat, than for pure chance games such as roulette or slots. Casinos also earn money from the rake, a commission paid by players in poker games.
Casinos are protected from cheating, theft and other security threats by a combination of technology and human surveillance. Dealers keep their eyes peeled for blatant cheating at card and dice games, and table managers watch over each game to make sure players aren’t stealing money from other tables. In addition, sophisticated surveillance systems provide a “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino from a room filled with banks of security monitors.
When casino gambling first took hold in the United States, organized crime figures provided much of the bankroll. The mobsters had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets, and they were comfortable with the seamy image of casino gambling. Eventually, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets bought out the mobster owners and ran their own casinos without the Mafia’s interference.