A casino, or gambling house, is an establishment where a wide variety of games of chance can be played. These games can include dice, card, slot machines, and other electronic gaming devices. In addition to these games, casinos also host live entertainment such as stage shows and concerts. Casinos are most often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other tourist attractions. In the United States, several states have legalized gambling in one form or another.

Casinos earn money by charging a percentage of every bet placed on their machines or tables. This “vig” can be a very small amount, lower than two percent, but over millions of bets it adds up to substantial revenue for the owner. This revenue, in turn, is used to finance the casinos’ other amenities. The modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park for adults. Musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotel towers may draw in the crowds, but the vast majority of casino profits come from gambling.

Unlike other forms of gambling, which tend to encourage cheating and theft, casinos invest a lot of time and money in security. Elaborate surveillance systems employ a high-tech eye-in-the-sky that can watch every table, window and doorway at once. Computerized chips in the tables can monitor the amounts wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored for abnormalities; and video cameras follow all players, even those at remote tables.

According to a survey by Harrah’s Entertainment, in 2005 the typical casino gambler was a forty-six year old female from a household with above-average income. This demographic is particularly attractive to casinos because they are more likely to have vacation time and available spending money than other types of gamblers.

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