What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment, offering various types of games of chance. Some have an element of skill, such as blackjack and video poker. Many casinos offer free drinks and food to gamblers. Those who win large amounts of money are called high rollers. The casinos make money by taking a small percentage of the total bets, which is known as the house edge or vigorish. In addition, some casinos charge a fee to play certain games, such as baccarat and roulette.

Casinos are often located in cities with a strong tourist industry, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They may also be located in rural areas with an emphasis on entertainment and leisure activities. In recent years, Native American casinos have gained popularity and increased the number of casinos nationwide.

Due to the large amount of currency handled, a casino has a reputation for being a target for theft and cheating by both patrons and employees. Therefore, most casinos have several security measures in place to deter crime. Security at a casino is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. The security forces patrol the premises and respond to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. The surveillance department operates the casino’s closed circuit television system, referred to as an eye in the sky.

In the past, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in casinos because of their seamy image, which was amplified by the fact that gambling was illegal in most other states. As a result, many casinos were funded by organized crime. Mafia figures controlled the management and even owned some of them. This control was eroded in the 1970s as more states legalized gambling and as mafia members moved into other industries, such as real estate.