A casino is a gambling establishment where customers place bets on games of chance and (in some cases) skill. Most casino games have a built in statistical advantage for the house, which is called the house edge. The casino makes money by taking a small percentage of the total bets made, and this amount can vary based on game rules, pay tables, jackpot sizes, and even how often a particular machine is refilled with coins. Casinos also make a large sum of money from the sale of slot machines and video poker machines, which are programmed to take a specific percentage of the total amount wagered.
In addition to the traditional card games like blackjack and poker, most casinos offer a variety of other games. In Europe, for example, baccarat is popular, while in the United States the most common game is roulette. In Asia, casinos may offer a number of traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan, and pai gow.
Casinos have long been associated with gangsters and mafia activities, but with the rise of real estate investors and hotel chains who wanted to control the lucrative casino business, mobsters were gradually squeezed out. Today, mob control is almost nonexistent and casinos are governed by federal regulations that can lead to the confiscation of a license at the slightest hint of criminal activity. The modern casino typically has a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department, and both work together to prevent crime.