A casino, or gambling house, is an establishment that offers games of chance for money. The games may include poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and other table games. Casinos also offer food and drink and entertainment, often with a theme. They may be located in a luxurious hotel or built into a shopping center. While glitzy attractions such as musical shows, lighted fountains and a range of shopping options help draw customers, casinos make their money from the billions of dollars in bets placed each year on games of chance such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack and craps.
While a casino has an overall fun and exciting atmosphere, it is also a dangerous place to be. Many casinos are heavily guarded, with security personnel patrolling the floor and monitoring patrons constantly. Some have a high-tech “eye in the sky” surveillance system that can track movements and monitor patrons from a control room. In addition to these measures, most casinos have strict rules of conduct that patrons must follow to avoid being tripped up by cheats and scammers.
Something about the huge amounts of money that are handled in a casino encourages people to cheat and steal, whether in collusion or on their own. For this reason, a casino’s security department is usually split into two departments: a physical force and a specialized surveillance group. The latter operates a system of closed circuit television cameras that is referred to as the “eye in the sky” and can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious activities.
In the past, a casino’s reputation was tainted by mob influence and gangster involvement. But as mob money dried up, legitimate businessmen such as real estate investors and hotel chains realized the potential profits of running a casino. The mob still provided the bankroll, but they were no longer the face of the enterprise. Today, casinos are choosy about who they allow to gamble and offer a variety of “comps” to big spenders such as free rooms, meals, tickets to shows and airline tickets.
A casino is a noisy and busy place where patrons are encouraged to shout encouragement and bet on their favorite game. Lights are bright and the walls are sometimes gaudy, with red being a popular color because it is thought to stimulate the brain. There are usually no clocks in a casino because it is believed that seeing a time would distract players from their gambling. Casinos are a major source of revenue for many cities and nations around the world and provide entertainment for millions of people. They are also a dangerous environment for those who are prone to addiction or have mental illnesses. Some states are attempting to regulate the industry to protect its customers.