A casino is a place where people play games of chance for money. The modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park, with lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels adding to the entertainment and profit for the owners. But casinos would not exist without the games themselves: Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other table games are what bring in the billions of dollars in revenue that fuel the casino industry.

Gambling is a popular form of entertainment and has been legalized in many countries worldwide. Some countries have national monopolies on gambling; others ban it entirely or restrict it to certain times and places. In the United States, gambling was once a crime and most states outlawed it for decades after it became legal in Nevada. Even so, illegal gambling still took place, often with the complicity of law enforcement.

Most casino profits come from big bettors, who gamble with high stakes and make large wagers. In order to keep big bettors coming back, most casinos offer them comps, or complimentary items, such as free shows and hotel rooms. Casinos also employ a variety of security measures. The staff on the floor watch the games carefully and can easily spot blatant cheating such as palming, marking or switching cards and dice. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons.

In 2005, the typical casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old female from a household with above-average income. The casino’s main source of profits, however, comes from the high rollers who bet in the tens of thousands of dollars and play in private rooms separate from the main gaming area.