What is a Casino?

A public room or building in which a variety of gambling games are played, especially roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker, and slot machines. The term casino is also used for a system of rules that governs the conduct of these games and the payment of winnings. It may be distinguished from a saloon in that the latter usually does not serve alcohol, nor do the games require betting with chips.

The games in a casino have a mathematical expectancy that ensures the house an advantage over the players; this advantage is called the “house edge” or vigorish. Some casinos offer games with skill elements, and players who possess sufficient skills to eliminate the long-term house advantage are referred to as advantage players. In any case, the casinos take a percentage of the bets placed, which is known as the vigorish or rake.

Due to the large amount of money handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. In response to this threat, modern casinos employ a number of security measures. These typically include a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department, which uses closed circuit television to monitor the activities of the casino’s patrons. In some cases, a casino will have catwalks above its gaming floor that allow surveillance personnel to look down on the games through one-way glass. This allows them to see all the action without disrupting the game.