A casino is a public place where people can play a variety of games of chance, including slot machines, blackjack, poker and baccarat. In addition, casinos often offer other entertainment options such as stage shows and dramatic scenery. A casino is a gambling establishment and, as such, it may be subject to criminal law. In many countries, casinos are regulated by law or have special licenses. In others, they are not.
Most casino games have a built-in house advantage that guarantees the casino a profit over time, even in the face of millions of bets. This edge, called the vig or rake, can be small (a few percent) but it adds up to billions of dollars in profits each year for casinos in the United States alone.
Because of this virtual assurance of gross profit, casinos usually concentrate their investments on the most profitable gamblers. Big bettors are offered free spectacular entertainment, luxurious living quarters, reduced-fare transportation and a variety of other inducements. Lesser bettors are given complimentary items, or comps, that vary by casino and game.
Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal. Consequently, casinos spend considerable effort and expense on security. For example, in the 1990s some casinos installed “chip tracking” systems in their table games that allow them to monitor the exact amount of money wagered minute-by-minute and instantly discover any anomaly; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to detect any deviation from their expected statistical patterns.