A casino is a gambling establishment that offers various kinds of chance-based games. Some, like poker and blackjack, require a high degree of skill; others, such as slots and keno, depend on luck only. In addition to gaming, casinos offer food and drink, entertainment, top-notch hotels and spas, and many other amenities.
A major source of income for a casino is the vig, or house edge, on each game offered. The house edge, mathematically determined, can be as small as two percent or as large as a few hundred percent. It is this revenue that allows casinos to build enormous buildings, fountains, and replicas of world famous pyramids, towers, and other structures.
Casinos are largely a social activity, and patrons are encouraged to interact with one another. This can take the form of yelling encouragement or even fighting, especially during craps and poker games. The environment is loud and colorful, with bright lights and gaudy wall coverings that stimulate the senses. Alcoholic drinks are readily available, and waiters rove the casino floors to serve customers. Nonalcoholic beverages and snacks are also offered free of charge.
Due to the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with one another or independently. To counter this threat, casinos employ a variety of security measures. A common method is to place cameras throughout the casino, which are monitored by security personnel in a room filled with banks of security monitors. Another method is to place catwalks in the ceiling over the casino floor, allowing security personnel to look down on gamblers directly through one-way glass.
Another way that casinos discourage cheating is to train their security staff to recognize unusual patterns of behavior. For instance, the expected sequence of shuffles and dealing of cards in certain games make it easy for trained personnel to spot suspicious actions. Additionally, all casino games follow a set of rules that must be followed by players; this makes it easy for security personnel to detect violations.
To attract the attention of big bettors, casinos offer extravagant inducements. For example, they give the highest bettors free spectacular entertainment and transportation, elegant living quarters, and reduced-fare hotel rooms. Lesser bettors are often given comps, such as free drinks and cigarettes while they play. The casino industry is a very profitable business, and it is not uncommon for a single casino to gross more than a billion dollars per year.