What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance or with an element of skill. These include card, dice and random number games managed by a dealer or croupier. Customers buy chips to bet on the outcome of a game, and the house takes a percentage of winnings as a fee. Casinos offer a variety of luxuries to lure gamblers, including restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. They may also provide a variety of gambling products, such as lotteries and video poker.

In the United States, casinos are licensed and regulated by state governments. Some are privately owned; others are run by Indian tribes or charitable organizations. Some casinos are located on the grounds of resort hotels, where patrons can enjoy other amenities, such as spa services and golf courses. Others stand alone on a strip of land.

Most casino patrons are not wealthy; 23% of adults who reported gambling in 2005 had a household income below the federal poverty level. These patrons typically favor games with a high house edge, such as blackjack and poker. They tend to play longer and more frequently than other types of gamblers.

In general, casino employees work closely with security to monitor their patrons and prevent cheating or theft. Some casinos have elaborate surveillance systems with “eyes-in-the-sky,” allowing security workers to see all tables, change windows and doorways at once. Some of these cameras are adjustable and can focus on suspicious patrons.