A casino is a place that offers games of chance to people and where gambling is the primary activity. Casinos usually add many luxuries to help attract gamblers, including restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Some casinos are so luxurious that they have a hotel within them and can be visited as part of a vacation package.
Although the precise origins of gambling are unknown, the fact that it has become an integral part of human culture reflects its universal appeal. From the glitzy strip of Las Vegas to illegal pai gow parlors in Chinatown, there are almost 100 million people who visit casinos each year. These gamblers represent a wide range of economic backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they want to win. To do that, they must overcome a built-in advantage that ensures that the house will always come out ahead, known as the “house edge.”
Modern casinos rely on sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor their guests and prevent cheating and other crimes. For example, a casino may use betting chips that have microcircuitry so that the chips can be tracked minute-by-minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored to detect any statistical deviations from their expected results; and slot machines are programmed to pay out according to a predetermined schedule.
In addition to surveillance, casino security is often a large financial concern for operators. For this reason, the typical casino has a dedicated physical security force that patrols the facility and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. In addition, there are specialized surveillance departments that manage the casino’s closed circuit television system, sometimes referred to as the eye in the sky.