A casino is an establishment for gambling. It may also include entertainment facilities such as stage shows and dramatic scenery. There are many different kinds of casinos, ranging from the luxurious Las Vegas Strip mega-hotels to small town taverns with card tables and a few slot machines. Some casinos are operated by large corporations, while others are run by local governments or Native American tribes. Regardless of their size or location, all casinos share some common characteristics:
The most obvious is that they have lots of people playing games of chance. Some of these games have an element of skill, but most are purely random. Players wager money, and the house takes a commission called the rake or vig. Most games are designed to have a mathematical advantage for the house, which is known as the house edge. The exact advantage varies between games, but is usually fairly small.
Casinos use a variety of security measures to ensure that their patrons are treated fairly. This begins with a staff of highly trained dealers who know the nuances of their game, and can spot any blatant cheating. Other security measures include hidden cameras, catwalks that allow surveillance personnel to look down on the table from above, and specialized tables with built-in microcircuitry that monitors the betting patterns of players.
Another area of controversy is the effect of casinos on local economies. Critics claim that they shift spending away from other forms of recreation, and that the cost of treating problem gamblers offsets any economic benefits.