A casino is a gambling establishment. Though many casinos offer luxurious amenities such as free drinks, restaurants and stage shows, the primary function is to host gambling activities. In the United States, some of the most famous are located in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. European casinos are generally more refined and elegant in design. The Hippodrome, in London, England, is one of the most famous and was built over a century ago. Its lavish atmosphere and storied history make it a popular tourist attraction.
Casinos earn their money by offering games that require a degree of luck and skill, but also have a predetermined statistical edge for the house. This advantage is known as the vig or the rake and is what allows casinos to build their elaborate hotels, fountains, pyramids and towers. The vig is usually lower than two percent, but it adds up over the billions of bets placed by casino patrons each year.
Something about gambling (maybe it’s the presence of large sums of money) seems to encourage cheating and stealing by players. As a result, casinos invest a huge amount of time, effort and money into security. They have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that monitors activity from cameras in every room, window and doorway. Some casinos even have a high-tech eye-in-the-sky system that can be focused on specific suspects by staff in a separate room.
Casinos reward their loyal customers with comps, or free goods and services. Those who gamble the most often and at the highest stakes are rewarded with everything from free hotel rooms to dinners, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets.