A casino is a gambling establishment where the primary activity is gaming. Traditionally, casinos have offered table games and slot machines, but since the 1990s many have expanded to offer a variety of other entertainment activities as well. The modern casino often has a restaurant, bar and stage show in addition to the gambling area.
Most casinos feature a number of games that have an inherent long term disadvantage to the house, or advantage, which is known as the “house edge.” Players who possess sufficient skills to eliminate this advantage are known as advantage players. Casinos earn money by charging an extra amount to the players, called vigorish or rake. This is typically a small percentage of the total bets, but it adds up over time to give casinos an enormous profit over the long run, which is why they are able to spend millions on elaborate hotels, fountains, pyramids and towers, as well as stage shows and other amenities.
Security is another big expense for casinos. In addition to cameras and other technology, many casinos have strict rules for player conduct. For example, in some American casinos, players are required to keep their cards visible at all times. Casinos also monitor the use of betting chips that have microcircuitry to oversee the exact amount being wagered minute-by-minute, and to discover any statistical deviations.
Some casinos are very strict about enforcing these rules, while others have more subtle methods of detection. For example, the way in which dealers shuffle and deal cards follow certain patterns. This makes it easier for security personnel to spot suspicious actions. Some casinos also have catwalks above the casino floor that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, at the tables and slots.