What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and in some cases skill. It also offers restaurants, free drinks and stage shows for its patrons. Casinos are typically built in areas with large amounts of foot traffic, such as hotel lobby spaces or shopping malls. They are often operated by a private company and governed by local, state or federal laws.

Although casinos owe their existence to the legalization of gambling in Nevada, they became popular nationwide after several American states amended their anti-gambling statutes during the 1980s. This allowed casinos to open in Atlantic City, and then in many other cities and states. They also began to appear on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from some state gambling laws.

In modern casinos, elaborate surveillance systems allow security workers to monitor every table, window and doorway from a room filled with banks of computer screens. This technology is used to watch for cheats and other suspicious behavior. In addition, electronic sensors in poker tables track the amount of money wagered on each hand to warn employees when the bettor is losing or winning too much; roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviation from expected results.

Lastly, for some games with an element of skill, like blackjack and Spanish 21, mathematically determined odds guarantee that the house will always have an advantage over the player. This edge is called the house edge and can be calculated with the help of gaming mathematicians.