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What Is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance or skill. The games are typically operated by the house, which takes a percentage of the bets placed on each game. This advantage is known as the vig or rake. In some games, such as poker, the house also collects a commission on winning hands.

Most modern casinos have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. They work very closely together and have been quite successful in preventing crime. They use closed circuit television (CCTV), which is sometimes called an “eye in the sky” to watch the casino’s patrons and their activities.

In 2002, about 51 million people-a group equivalent to about a quarter of the population over age 21-visited casinos. Many of these casinos are incredibly elaborate and feature fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. A few of the largest casinos are in Las Vegas, including the Venetian and the Rio. Other large casinos are in Macau, which was once a Portuguese colony and is now a special administrative region of China.

Most casinos offer a variety of games, and some even specialize in inventing new ones to draw people into their gambling dens. Some casinos add other luxuries to help attract customers, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Other casinos are much less lavish, and still manage to attract large numbers of people to their gaming tables and other gambling activities.