A casino is a gambling establishment that houses various games of chance and where gambling is the primary activity. A typical modern casino features stage shows, restaurants and a full range of other entertainment, but the bulk of a casinos profits come from games like blackjack, poker, craps, roulette and baccarat.

In the United States, about 51 million people visited casinos in 2002 — the equivalent of about one quarter of all American adults over 21. That number does not include the millions more who gambled online. These visitors can be lured with the promise of big jackpots, but it is not unusual for them to lose more than they win. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security.

Gambling patrons are encouraged to shout out encouragement and the casino environment is designed around noise, light and excitement. Alcoholic beverages are readily available at the tables and at the slot machines, and nonalcoholic drinks and snacks can be found in bars and restaurants. Casinos employ a wide variety of security techniques, ranging from cameras and video monitors to sophisticated systems that track betting chips with microcircuitry or check a roulette wheel regularly to discover any statistical anomalies.

The world’s top casinos attract wealthy gamblers with luxury amenities that are hard to find in smaller, less lavish facilities. Some offer a private jet for big bettors, while others pamper visitors with gourmet dining and Hermes and Chanel boutiques. Most offer comp programs that reward loyal players with free or discounted meals, drinks and show tickets.