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What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where games of chance are played. It can be as elaborate as the Las Vegas megaresort, or as simple as a hall with tables and a slot machine. It is distinguished from other types of gambling, such as lotteries or Internet games, in that it includes a social component. Players are typically surrounded by other people, and the atmosphere is noisy and boisterous. Food, drinks and cigars are often available.

Because casinos are businesses that must generate a profit to survive, they have an almost constant need to lure and retain patrons. This is why they spend millions of dollars to research colors, scents and sounds that appeal to players the most. They also employ sophisticated psychological techniques to encourage patrons to gamble.

The most common game at a casino is the slot machine. Its advantage is usually no greater than 1 percent, and its high volume of play makes it very profitable for the casino. Roulette, blackjack and baccarat attract larger bettors, but they are less profitable than slots. Craps appeals to big bettors, but its advantage is usually only 1.4 percent or less.

The casino’s security begins on the floor, where employees have close eyes on each game and every patron. Dealers watch for blatant cheating (palming, marking or switching cards, a dice roll that is off center) and betting patterns that signal cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire floor, including every window and doorway.