A casino (plural casinos) is an establishment for gambling. These buildings are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. They may also be found in cruise ships and military bases. In the United States, legal casinos are regulated by state law. A casino may be operated by a private company or public corporation, or it can be owned and operated by a government.

A casino’s profits come from a built-in advantage that it has over all the patrons who play its games, known as the house edge. Depending on the game, this advantage can be very small—less than two percent for video poker—or it can be quite large for table games like blackjack and roulette. Casinos track these edges and other statistics, using a combination of mathematicians and computer programmers to design their systems. The mathematical techniques involved are called gaming analysis and mathematical modeling.

To offset the house edge, casinos take steps to keep their patrons happy. Free food and drinks help to keep people on the casino floor, where they can spend more money. The fact that patrons use chips instead of real cash makes them less concerned about losing money, although this doesn’t reduce the house edge itself. Casinos also offer comps, or complimentary goods and services, to “good” players, such as hotel rooms, show tickets, meals, limo service, and airline tickets.

Casinos also employ a number of security measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their patrons. Usually, a physical security force patrols the casino and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. A separate specialized surveillance department runs the casino’s closed circuit television system, the so-called eye in the sky. This system can be focused on specific patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of monitors.