A casino is a place where people play games of chance for money. The name comes from the Latin word for “house of games.” Some casinos are very elaborate, with stage shows and dramatic scenery. Others are more low-key, with free drinks and a handful of tables. Some of the more popular games include craps, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and video poker. Some casinos also offer regular poker games where patrons play against each other. These games usually generate a small profit for the house through commissions (called rakes) or fees charged to players. Unlike lotteries, which pay out money randomly, most casino games have mathematical odds that ensure the house will always make a profit—called an expected value.
Security is a major concern for casino operators. Employees keep an eye on each game and patrons to spot cheating. Table managers and pit bosses have a broader view of the floor and can spot patterns in betting that may indicate a player is trying to steal chips from his or her fellow players. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech, “eye in the sky” that can be adjusted to focus on particular suspicious patrons.
Many casinos give away free goods or services to attract and reward big spenders, called comps. These can include rooms, meals, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets. In return, a gambler swipes his or her casino card before each visit. The card is linked to a database that tracks spending habits and comps awarded.