A casino, also known as a gambling hall or a gaming house, is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance or skill. Some casinos are specialized in certain games, such as poker or craps. Casinos are generally licensed and regulated by governments or gaming commissions. Some are operated by major hotel chains. Others are stand-alone venues such as those in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore.
While casinos may add a variety of luxuries to attract customers, they are primarily places where people can wager money and win or lose it. Casinos earn their profits from the mathematically determined edge that they hold over patrons on each game, a term called the house edge. Other casino revenue sources include a percentage of the amount of money wagered on slot machines, known as the vig or rake, and fees for table games, such as baccarat.
Something about gambling seems to encourage cheating and theft, as well as the more insidious problem of compulsive gambling, which drains local economies through reduced spending on other forms of entertainment and through lost worker productivity. As a result, casinos devote considerable time, effort and money to security.
Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that can detect and track suspicious patrons. Some casinos even use special betting chips with microcircuitry to monitor the exact amounts bet minute by minute and to alert supervisors if there is any significant deviation from expected results; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any anomalies as soon as they appear.