A casino, in its modern sense, is an establishment that offers gambling. It may also have a variety of other entertainment amenities such as musical shows, lighted fountains, restaurants and shopping centers. But a casino would not exist without games of chance such as slots, blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and baccarat, which account for the billions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos each year.

While the casino business relies heavily on luck, it has its own methods of encouraging players to gamble and of rewarding those who do. Many casinos offer perks such as free hotel rooms, buffets and show tickets to “good” customers. These complimentary items are called comps. In games such as poker where players compete against each other, the house takes a percentage of each player’s bets, which is called the rake.

The casino business has had a sometimes seedy reputation, especially in the 1950s when it became the center of illegal gambling in Nevada. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in gambling, which had the taint of vice and was illegal in all other states. Mafia figures, on the other hand, had plenty of cash from their drug dealing and extortion businesses, so they became involved in casinos, taking sole or partial ownership of some and exerting control over others.

Today, the casino is a sophisticated, high-tech enterprise. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that allows security personnel to see everyone in the casino at once, and the cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons if necessary.