A casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance and the opportunity to win money. The words gambling and casino are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two: Gambling is any type of betting or wagering, regardless of whether it takes place in a casino or not; however, casinos specifically house gaming activities.
Casinos make their money by offering games of chance with a built in mathematical advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. This advantage can be as low as two percent for games such as roulette, which attracts big bettors; or up to four or five percent on blackjack, baccarat and video poker. In addition, the vig or rake taken by slot machines and video poker is another source of income for the casino.
Despite these advantages, casinos still face the potential for people to cheat and steal. As a result, many casinos spend a significant amount of money on security. Security cameras are placed throughout the casino, and a high tech “eye-in-the-sky” allows security workers to watch all of the tables at once from a room filled with banks of monitors.
Casinos first gained popularity in the United States in the 1960s and ’70s when they began to appear on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to state anti-gambling laws. Today, there are over 3,000 casinos worldwide, including the famous ones in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.