A casino, or gaming house, is a place where people play games of chance and skill for money. Most casinos feature a wide range of gambling games and offer food, drinks and entertainment. Some are open around the clock and some are located in tourist areas. In the United States, most states have legalized casinos. Many of these establishments are regulated by state law. Casinos may also be operated by private individuals or corporations.
Most games played in casinos have a certain advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. This advantage is uniformly negative (from the player’s point of view) and is determined by the mathematics of the game. A game’s house edge is affected by the rules of the game, the number and type of players, and the payout structure. In card games, the house takes a percentage of each bet made, a practice called raking.
Something about the atmosphere of a casino — probably the presence of large amounts of money — seems to encourage patrons and staff members to cheat or steal, in collusion or independently. This is why casinos spend a lot of money on security. Many modern casinos have surveillance cameras placed throughout the facility, and there is often a noticeable presence of security guards.
In addition to the obvious physical security measures, casinos use a variety of other techniques to discourage cheating and stealing. Dealers, for example, are heavily trained to detect blatant cheating like palming cards or marking dice. Casinos also have strict rules about the location and appearance of chips, requiring that they be kept visible at all times. Table managers and pit bosses oversee the tables, watching for betting patterns that might indicate cheating.
Besides physical security, casinos use a variety of marketing and promotional tactics to lure customers. They often feature bright and gaudy floor and wall coverings that are designed to stimulate the senses and inspire excitement and spending. They also use a lot of red, which is known to make people lose track of time. In some cases, casinos even remove clocks from their walls because they distract gamblers.
In 2005, Harrah’s Entertainment reported that the typical casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above-average income. They tend to prefer electronic games over table games and rely on machines that pay out high percentages of winnings. They are also more likely to be interested in gambling perks, such as free hotel rooms and show tickets, than other types of gamblers. In order to attract and keep these customers, many casinos invest in “high roller” lounges where patrons can gamble for stakes of tens of thousands of dollars. These high-stakes gamblers are often favored by casino managers and receive special treatment that can include free luxury suites and personal attention from the gaming staff. However, some critics argue that casinos detract from the economy of a local community by shifting spending away from other forms of entertainment and hurting property values.