A casino (or gambling house) is an establishment that houses a variety of games of chance, and where gambling is the primary activity. It may be a standalone structure or part of a resort, hotel or other tourist attraction. Casinos often feature restaurants, bars and stage shows to attract players. Some also offer sports betting and other non-gambling entertainment.

The word casino was derived from the Italian word cinza, meaning “a small public hall for music and dancing.” The term eventually came to refer to a collection of gaming or gambling rooms.

Most casinos are owned by large hotel and resort chains, or by private investors. In the past, mobster ownership of casinos was common, but federal prosecutions and the risk of losing a license at even the faintest hint of Mafia involvement have kept mobsters out of the legitimate business.

Casino security starts on the floor, where dealers keep a close eye on patrons to make sure that everything is as it should be. Table managers and pit bosses are on the lookout for blatant cheating, such as palming or marking cards. Detailed surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky, with cameras monitoring each table and slot machine, adjusting to focus on suspicious patrons.

Every game of chance has a built in advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. It can be very small, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by casino patrons. That advantage allows casinos to afford a host of luxuries, such as fountains, pyramids and replicas of famous landmarks.