A casino (also known as a gaming establishment or a gambling hall) is a place where people play a variety of games of chance for money. Most casinos feature a wide variety of table and slot games. Some of the most popular include blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, and poker. Casinos make their money by taking a percentage of each bet, or a fixed fee on some games such as video poker and blackjack.
Many casinos offer a wide range of activities for non-gambling patrons, such as shows or restaurants. The largest casinos in the world are known for their lavish displays, such as fountains, pyramids, and replicas of famous buildings. In addition to their obvious entertainment value, these displays serve as an effective marketing tool.
Like any business, a casino must make a profit to survive. Each game has a built-in advantage for the house, which can be as low as two percent of all bets. This edge, known as the house edge or house gain, allows a casino to turn a profit over time, even with modest bets.
As the popularity of casino gambling grew in the United States, organized crime figures became involved. They funded the construction of casinos, took sole or partial ownership, and regulated operations. Mob money also gave casinos a glamorous veneer and helped to dispel the seamy image associated with gambling. Because of the large amounts of cash handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal. This is why security measures are so important.