What is a Casino?

Casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance or, in some cases, skill. Most of these games have mathematically determined odds that always give the house an advantage, and are known as “house edges”. In games where players compete against one another (such as poker), casinos earn money by taking a commission on winnings, a practice called rake. Many casinos also offer complimentary items or comps to their patrons, and some have high-tech surveillance systems that can track every movement on the casino floor.

Despite their reputation as places of excess, most casinos strive to provide a safe and enjoyable gambling experience for their patrons. The large amounts of currency handled inside casinos can create a temptation for both staff and patrons to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. Security measures are designed to deter this behavior, and include a system of cameras that constantly monitor the casino floor.

The first casino was built in Venice, Italy, but most of the world’s leading casinos are located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Until the early 1980s, these casinos were mostly owned by organized crime figures, who financed them with proceeds from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets. Legitimate businessmen were wary of investing in casinos because of their seamy image, but mobsters were eager to invest the cash they had acquired from other activities. These investors became the sole or partial owners of many casinos, and exerted influence over their operations.