A casino is a place where a variety of games of chance can be played and gambling is the primary activity. Although there have been many less extravagant places that housed gambling activities, a modern casino often adds restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery to attract patrons.
Gambling is a worldwide business that brings in billions of dollars each year for the owners, investors and governments of the casinos. Successful casinos are often built in spectacular resort locations and operated by large companies, private investors and Native American tribes. They also exist on cruise ships and at racetracks in the form of racinos.
Something about the allure of winning big bucks seems to encourage people to cheat or steal, and casinos spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money on security. In addition to a physical security force that patrols the casino, there is usually a specialized department that oversees the surveillance system called the eye in the sky, and monitors each of the many slot machines. The routines and patterns of casino games follow certain standards, so it is easier for security personnel to spot when something does not fit the norm.
The most popular casino games are blackjack and poker, with baccarat (the principal game in the casinos of Monaco and those of the French Riviera), and roulette being widely played in Europe. There are also many electronic games, such as the video poker of Las Vegas.