What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games to its patrons. Many of these games are based on chance, while others require a high degree of skill. While the majority of casino patrons are happy with the experience, a small percentage of them are addicted to gambling and generate a disproportionate share of the profits. Casinos use sophisticated technology to ensure fair play and monitor game results. In the case of table games, electronic systems track the exact amount of money being wagered minute by minute to discover any deviations from expected outcomes. Roulette wheels are also electronically monitored to uncover any statistical deviations from expected results. Casinos also employ a number of employees whose job it is to monitor the behavior of patrons and make sure that rules are being followed. The main attraction of most casinos is the wide array of games available to guests. In addition to the traditional table games, such as blackjack and poker, most modern casinos offer a range of video and slot machines. Some of these games feature themes inspired by popular films and television shows, while others are based on classic games such as roulette and craps. Most casino games provide a predictable long-term profit to the house or “house edge,” but some allow players to eliminate this advantage by using skills, such as card counting, calculating probabilities and observing betting patterns. These people are called advantage players. In most cases, casinos do not prohibit advantage players from playing, but they may be subject to disciplinary action for violating casino policies. In addition to cameras and computer monitoring, casinos are also able to detect and punish cheating through employee rules and regulations. For example, dealers are instructed to watch for blatant signs of cheating such as palming or marking cards, and pit bosses closely monitor each game for suspicious activity. The casino also hires mathematicians who specialize in the analysis of casino games, allowing them to understand the house edge and variance and help calculate how much cash to keep on hand. Live entertainment is a major component of most casino offerings. Some casinos feature famous performers such as Celine Dion, Elton John and Rod Stewart, while others, like Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, host a series of residencies. Some, like the original Circus Maximus, were built as show arenas and have hosted legendary stars such as Frank Sinatra. The mob provided the initial capital for most Nevada casinos, but legal businessmen soon saw how lucrative the gambling industry could be. They poured money into casinos, and many became involved in their management, taking sole or partial ownership of several. Ultimately, federal anti-mafia laws and the threat of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of Mafia involvement helped to clean up the image of casinos and attract legitimate investors. Today, companies such as hotel chains and real estate developers own and operate casinos. They are often designed to appeal to specific demographic groups, such as wealthy tourists or sports fans.