A casino is a gambling establishment that offers card and table games of chance to those who wish to wager money. They usually charge a fee for each game played. Those who wager large sums of money can often earn “comps” such as free hotel rooms, meals or show tickets.

The popularity of casinos has made them a global phenomenon. They are now located in every country where legal gambling is permitted. In fact, more than 51 million people visited a casino in the United States alone in 2002. This number includes both domestic and international visitors.

While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help draw in the crowds, the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat are just a few of the many popular games that contribute to the billions in profits raked in by casinos each year.

The most popular form of casino gambling is the card game baccarat. It is a staple of those European continental casinos patronized by the British such as Deauville, Cannes and Divonne-les-Bains, and of those in the American southwest like Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City. But other popular casino games include blackjack, poker, and the French card game trente et quarante. In all of these games, the house has a built-in advantage that can be lower than two percent, depending on the rules and how the players play. This house edge, also known as the vig or rake, is what gives casinos their profit margin, even in games that have some element of skill.