A casino is a gambling establishment that offers patrons the opportunity to win money by playing games of chance. It also offers other entertainment options such as food and drink. Casinos are usually licensed and regulated by state gaming control boards, and many have additional licenses to offer specific types of gambling. The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it is believed to have existed in nearly all human societies.
A wide variety of casino games can be found at casinos, although card games are the most common. Baccarat is the most popular game in Europe, while roulette, blackjack, and video poker are the most common in America. Some casinos also feature table games such as pai gow poker and chemin de fer. The economic mainstay of a casino is the income from the casino’s slot machines and (from the 1980s) video poker, which earn revenue through high volume, rapid play at sums ranging from five cents to one dollar. Casinos may also make a profit from their tables, either by taking a percentage of each pot or charging players an hourly rate.
Large amounts of money are handled within a casino, and both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, in collusion or independently. For this reason, casinos have extensive security measures. These include physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments. Many casinos also have catwalks above the floor, allowing security personnel to look directly down on the activities of the tables and slots through one-way glass.