A casino, also known as a gaming house or a gambling establishment, is an establishment offering various types of gambling. Some casinos are stand-alone buildings, while others are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping or cruise ships. In some countries, casinos are licensed and regulated by government authorities. Others are unlicensed and operate illegally. In the United States, there are state-licensed casinos and several Indian reservation-based casinos. Many large hotel and gaming companies have acquired formerly mob-owned casinos. In addition, the casino business has become a major source of revenue for professional gamblers.
Casinos make money by giving patrons a chance to win money through games of chance, and sometimes skill (in the case of poker, for example). Each game has a mathematical expectation that the casino will win, although this edge can be very small. The casinos also collect a commission on the winnings, which is often called a rake or vigorish. Casinos offer a variety of games, from the traditional to the exotic, and some are devoted exclusively to Far Eastern gaming such as sic bo and fan-tan.
In addition to gaming, casinos often have entertainment venues that host performances by pop, rock and jazz artists. They also offer a wide range of dining and beverage options, from fast food to gourmet restaurants. They may also have sports betting and horse racing facilities.
Most casinos are located in the United States, with the largest concentration in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the 1980s, several American states amended their antigambling laws to allow casinos, and Iowa became the first state to legalize riverboat gambling. Casinos are also found in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; and other cities around the country. There are also Native American casinos in the United States, and some were established prior to state gaming laws.
Because of the high amounts of currency handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. To protect their customers, most casinos employ a variety of security measures. These include cameras and other surveillance equipment, random spot checks, and trained security personnel. Casinos are also required to report their activities to state regulatory agencies, and they are inspected regularly by the local gambling control board.
In addition to security, another major concern of casino owners is to prevent the flow of money from the gaming floor to outside entities such as organized crime groups and other criminal organizations. This is accomplished by limiting the number of people who have access to the casino and by requiring them to sign in. It is also possible to block a player’s credit card or other payment methods. Something about gambling – perhaps the presence of large sums of money – seems to encourage people to try to cheat, steal or scam their way into a jackpot, so casinos spend a great deal of time and money on security. Despite these precautions, gambling remains an addictive activity, and even the most careful players can lose a lot of money in a very short period of time.