A casino, also known as a gaming house or gambling establishment, is an entertainment complex that operates various types of gambling. It is mostly a place to play games of chance, although skill-based games like poker, blackjack and craps are also often offered. Casinos can be located in a variety of settings, from luxurious Vegas mega-resorts to more intimate locals’ casinos. They may also offer other types of entertainment, including live sports events, music and theater shows.

Something about the presence of large sums of money seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and scam their way to a jackpot, which is why casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that allows security personnel to monitor the entire casino at once. Dedicated cameras can be adjusted to focus on particular tables, windows and doorways; they are monitored by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of security monitors.

Despite their opulent trappings, most casinos rely on the same basic economic principle: that players’ losses subsidize the house’s profits. This advantage, mathematically determined to be uniformly negative for players, is called the house edge or expected value. Casinos also pay out winnings by subtracting a small percentage of each player’s wager (known as the vig or rake) from the total amount wagered. Some casinos also take a cut of the winnings from slot machines.