A casino is a place where gambling games are played. It also offers a wide variety of food, drinks and entertainment. The most popular games include black jack, roulette and slot machines. Guests can also try their hand at Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow.

Modern casinos are often lavish, with musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers. But the bulk of a casino’s profits – billions of dollars annually – is generated by the games of chance. Craps, blackjack, poker and baccarat bring in the money. Slots, in particular, are the economic staple of American casinos, bringing in high-volume, rapid play for sums ranging from five cents to a dollar.

Casinos have a built-in advantage, known as the house edge, that ensures their profitability. It can be relatively small (less than two percent) but it adds up over millions of bets. That translates into enough profit to finance a host of luxuries, including elaborate hotels, lighted fountains and replicas of famous pyramids and towers.

There is a darker side to the gambling industry, however. Something about the presence of large amounts of money seems to encourage cheating, theft and scamming. So much so that casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. This includes both physical security personnel and a specialized surveillance department that operates a closed circuit television system, commonly known as the eye in the sky. It is this system that enables casino security personnel to see exactly what is going on in the gaming pits and slot machines, even when players are wearing sunglasses or have their faces covered.