A casino is a place where people can play games of chance and win money. The term is derived from the Italian casona, meaning “a country house.” The first casinos were simple structures where patrons could place bets on games of chance and skill. The modern casino evolved as more states legalized gambling. Today, the largest concentration of casino hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues is in Las Vegas. Other major casino centers include Atlantic City, New Jersey and Chicago. Native American casinos are also growing rapidly.

While some of the games offered in casinos involve a degree of skill, most are strictly games of chance. As a result, the casinos always come out ahead. The built-in house advantage can be small (less than two percent) but, when multiplied by millions of bets, it allows the casinos to pay for their hotels, fountains, pyramids and replicas of famous towers. The casino also makes money by charging a commission on some of the games, called the vig or rake.

Because so much money changes hands in a casino, security is an important issue. There are a number of ways that people might try to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other patrons or independently. Because of this, many casinos have elaborate security systems and rules of conduct. Security cameras are used throughout the casinos and staff members are constantly on the lookout for crooked players. In addition, employees are trained to spot blatant cheating such as palming cards or marking dice.