A casino is a gambling establishment that offers patrons games of chance such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, craps, poker and other table games. These games are the source of the billions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos each year. Although a number of other attractions may be offered, such as musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels, casinos would not exist without the games of chance.
The etymology of the word casino is unclear, but it is generally accepted that it arose from Italian casino (house) and refers to a private club for social occasions. In the early 20th century, it came to mean a collection of gaming rooms.
Most casino games are based on probability, but there is an element of skill involved in some cases, such as the game of poker. Whatever the case, a mathematical expectation is always held by the house, giving it a virtual assurance of gross profit.
As a result, most casinos are geared to attract large bettors and offer them extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, transportation and elegant living quarters. Lesser bettors are also given reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms, free drinks and cigarettes while gambling and other inducements.
Due to the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently; thus most casinos spend a significant amount of time and resources on security measures. The most basic of these are security cameras throughout the facility. In addition, the routines and patterns of casino games tend to be repeated over and over, so that any deviation from the expected can quickly be spotted by casino security personnel.