A casino, or gambling house, is a popular establishment that offers the opportunity to gamble for money. Often, these establishments add a number of other features to make them more interesting and appealing to patrons. These include restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. The most famous casinos in the world are located in Las Vegas, but there are also many others scattered around the globe.
Casinos earn their profits from the statistical advantage they enjoy over patrons, which is known as the “vig” or a “rake.” This edge may be small — lower than two percent — but it can accumulate quickly, enough to fund elaborate hotels and fountains, giant pyramids and towers and replicas of historic landmarks.
Historically, casinos were run by organized crime figures, who supplied the bankroll and kept an eye on the games to prevent cheating and other irregularities. But as the industry grew, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets realized the potential and bought out the mob. With federal crackdowns and the threat of losing their gambling license if even the faintest hint of mafia involvement was discovered, legitimate business owners now keep mob hands off their casinos.
Security at the casino starts on the floor, where casino employees look out for blatant cheating and other irregularities. Dealers, pit bosses and table managers have a much broader view of the tables and can spot things like a player palming cards or marking dice. Elaborate surveillance systems also offer a high-tech eye in the sky: cameras watch every corner of the casino, and are easily adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with rows of monitors.