A casino is a gambling establishment where the public can place bets on various games of chance. These include card games, dice games and slot machines. Modern casinos add a variety of other entertainment features, including restaurants, shows and dramatic scenery to attract customers. Many states have passed laws legalizing casinos or allowing them to operate within their borders. Others have banned them, but casinos still thrive in many places, including Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Macau and other locations.
A modern casino combines gambling with luxury, creating a unique atmosphere that is often designed to attract visitors from abroad. Many also offer dining and shopping, making them a major tourist attraction. Some are owned by large hotel and resort chains. Others are standalone facilities. A casino’s security is of utmost importance. To protect patrons and staff, casinos use surveillance systems and rigorous rules to prevent cheating, stealing and other crimes.
Security begins on the floor, where employees keep a close eye on patrons and games. Dealers are trained to spot blatant cheating techniques, such as palming or marking cards or dice. Pit bosses and table managers oversee the larger picture, checking that all wagers are placed correctly and looking for suspicious betting patterns. Elaborate surveillance systems give a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” view of every table, window and doorway. They can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons, and they are constantly monitored by personnel in a room filled with banks of monitors.
In addition to cameras, casinos employ a wide range of technological devices to ensure that all bets are placed properly. For example, chip tracking systems allow casinos to check betting patterns minute by minute and warn dealers when a pattern emerges; roulette wheels are electronically monitored so that any statistical deviation from expected results can be discovered quickly. Video cameras are used to watch every table in the house, and computer programs are used to monitor all slot machine paybacks.
A casino’s financial success depends on its ability to maximize patrons’ chances of winning, while limiting their losses. Most casino games have a mathematical expectancy that gives the house a constant advantage over players, but certain casino-specific factors can reduce this edge or even eliminate it altogether. For this reason, casinos regularly offer big bettors extravagant inducements in the form of free spectacular entertainment, limo service, hotel rooms and airline tickets. These are known as comps. For smaller bettors, a casino might offer reduced-fare transportation, meals or other amenities, depending on how much the player spends. A few games have a slight element of skill, but most are strictly chance.