A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance. It is often a themed building with restaurants, shops and entertainment. It also offers a wide range of gambling games including slots, table games, and poker. Modern casinos have a variety of security measures to prevent cheating, stealing, and scamming. These include a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that uses closed circuit television (known as an eye in the sky).
While casinos have entertainment, shopping centers and hotels to draw visitors, the vast majority of their profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat all contribute to the billions of dollars that casinos make each year in profit. Some casino patrons are highly skilled at winning, but most are not, and the odds in most casino games are mathematically determined to give the house an edge over the players.
In the nineteenth century, casino was a generic term for any gaming establishment, but by the second half of that century it had acquired a more specific meaning: a venue that offered certain types of gambling. Some of the early gambling houses were organized crime enterprises, with mob money flowing into Reno and Las Vegas to support their seamy image. Casinos are now much more choosy about the patrons they allow in, and focus on high rollers who generate large amounts of profit for the casino. Critics argue that these high rollers shift spending from local businesses and that the cost of treating compulsive gamblers more than offsets any economic gains a casino might bring to a community.