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What Makes a Casino a Casino?

A casino is a place where people play gambling games. Modern casinos offer a multitude of luxury amenities such as restaurants, shopping centers, hotel rooms and entertainment venues. But they would not exist without games of chance, which generate the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year. Slot machines, roulette, baccarat and other table games supply the money that makes casinos possible.

There is one certainty in gambling: The house always wins. Each casino game has a built-in advantage that, over time, guarantees that the house will earn its share of winning bets. This mathematical expectancy is called the house edge.

Casinos use sophisticated mathematics to calculate the odds of winning and losing. Most games are regulated to limit the maximum amount a patron can win. This helps prevent big bettors from leaving with more than the casino can afford to pay. In addition, casinos rely on high volume and fast play to make their money from slot machines and (since the 1980s) video poker.

A casino’s security starts on the floor, where dealers keep a close eye on their own bettors to watch for blatant cheating or other violations of the rules. They also record video of each table and its players, so the casino can review the tapes in case a problem arises. Elaborate surveillance systems give each casino a high-tech “eye in the sky” that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons.