A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. The word casino comes from the Italian phrase cazino, which means “little house.” The first casinos appeared in the United States in the late 1970s, when Atlantic City became a popular destination for tourists. In the 1980s, casinos also began appearing on American Indian reservations that were not subject to state anti-gambling laws. Today, there are more than 3,000 legal casinos in the United States and many more around the world.
Although modern casinos feature musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers, and lavish hotels, most of their profits come from gambling games. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and poker are among the most popular games. These games have mathematically determined odds that give the house an advantage over the players. This edge is often called the house edge or the expected value.
Because of this, it is very difficult for a player to win more than his bets can cover. Therefore, the casino must keep its gross profit margin as high as possible. To do this, it offers free spectacular entertainment to big bettors and reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms and other inducements to lesser bettors.
In addition, the casino must keep its staff members from cheating or stealing, either in collusion or independently. This requires vigilance and constant surveillance of the premises by security personnel. Lastly, the large amount of money handled in a casino makes it vulnerable to counterfeiters and forgers.