A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. In modern usage, the term is most often applied to large facilities specifically designed and built for that purpose, but it can also refer to smaller gambling venues. Casinos are usually located near or combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are operated by government-licensed entities and offer a variety of games of chance to the public, including poker, bingo, keno, and baccarat. Some casinos specialize in specific types of games, such as baccarat or craps, and are known as boutique casinos.
Casinos make money by offering a statistical advantage to the house on each bet. While that edge is small – lower than two percent – it adds up over millions of bets, and helps casinos generate the billions in profits that they rake in each year. Casinos use that money to pay for lighted fountains, spectacular shows, elaborate hotels and other amenities.
Most casino patrons have no idea how much the odds are stacked against them, and the casinos know this well. Casinos often make the games with lousy odds – such as slot machines, blackjack and the various bets on craps – the most flashy and attractive, and dangle free alcohol and other inducements in front of players to keep them playing for longer than they would otherwise. Casinos also have a lot of security measures, such as catwalks that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, at the table and slot machines.