What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment. Customers gamble by playing games of chance or skill; some casinos also offer video poker. Some casinos are built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and/or cruise ships. Some are known for hosting live entertainment events. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is one of the most famous casinos in the world.

In the United States, there are more than 1,000 casinos. Many state governments regulate the operation of casinos. The largest concentration of casinos is in Atlantic City, New Jersey; other popular destinations include Chicago and Detroit. Most casinos are located in cities or towns with populations less than 100,000. Exceptions are American Indian reservations, which often operate legally outside state laws.

Casinos are businesses, and like all other businesses they must make a profit to stay in business. The house edge for each game in a casino is mathematically determined to ensure that, over time, the casino will win. This advantage, which varies by game, is generally calculated from optimal play (without counting cards or other advanced techniques) and is adjusted for the rules of each specific game. In games where players compete against each other, such as poker, the house makes money through a commission called the rake.

Modern casinos employ a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments to prevent criminal activity. In some cases, casinos are wired to a central system that oversees the precise amount of money being wagered minute-by-minute, and alerts management to any statistical deviation from expected results.

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