A casino, or gaming house, is an establishment for certain types of gambling. Almost 40 states now allow casinos. They can be large or small, and may be located in a number of cities. Some are well known, such as the casino in Monte Carlo and James Bond’s Casino Royal in London. Others are more obscure. Most are built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Some even feature entertainment, such as live music or stand-up comedy.

A key to casino success is attracting customers. Although lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes help attract attention, most of the billions of dollars that casinos rake in each year are generated by games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are among the most popular gambling choices.

To encourage patrons to play more, casinos offer perks called comps. These range from free slot play to food, drink and show tickets. Most casinos also have cards that can be swiped before each game to record a player’s total spending and to tally points that can be exchanged for cash or goods. High-spending players receive special treatment, such as rooms in a separate area of the casino and personalized service.

Something about the casino atmosphere seems to encourage cheating, stealing and scamming. That’s why most casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. Video cameras monitor gambling areas to detect suspicious activity; a computerized system enables each table to oversee the exact amounts bet minute by minute and warn staff immediately of any statistical deviation from expected results.