A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance or skill. These games include roulette, craps, blackjack, poker, and baccarat. Some casinos also offer video games. Casinos are primarily found in resorts and cities that attract tourists. In the United States, over 51 million people—a quarter of all adults age 21 or older—visited a casino in 2002.
The modern casino has a variety of ways to draw customers, from the flashing lights of Las Vegas’s Strip to the shuttle buses crowded with visitors in Atlantic City. Regardless of where they are located, however, casinos share a number of characteristics:
Most casino games have mathematically determined odds that give the house an edge over the players. This advantage is known as the house edge, and it can be calculated with the use of mathematical formulas and computers. Some of these calculations are performed by mathematicians who specialize in gaming analysis; others are done by the casinos themselves.
Casinos also rely on technology to monitor the integrity of their games. Video cameras and electronic systems monitor the amount of money wagered on each game minute by minute, and alert the staff if any unusual patterns emerge. Computers monitor roulette wheels to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results, and some casinos have wholly automated versions of table games where players bet by pushing buttons. These technologies have become more widespread since the 1990s, and they are used in addition to traditional security measures such as guards and surveillance cameras.