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Casino is a place where people can gamble on various games of chance, such as slots, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and poker. The etymology of the word casino comes from Italy, where it used to mean something like “villa or summer house.”
Although gambling has a reputation for being seedy, reputable businesses such as hotels and real estate investors have found that casinos can be very profitable. Mobster money has also flowed into Reno and Las Vegas casinos, but federal crackdowns and the possibility of losing a license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement have kept legitimate businessmen from getting too involved.
Casinos have a built-in advantage, known as the house edge, that can be very small (less than two percent), but it adds up over millions of bets by patrons. They make additional profits by taking a small percentage of the payouts from video poker and slot machines, and from the rake in card games such as poker and blackjack.
Casino security starts with the dealers and pit bosses who watch over each table, looking for blatant cheating such as palming, marking or switching cards or dice. More sophisticated casinos use electronic surveillance systems that monitor tables and rooms minute by minute, allowing the staff to quickly discover any statistical anomalies; the cameras are usually set up to zoom in on suspicious patrons. Casinos also use computer software that tracks patterns of betting to detect any attempts to alter the odds in a game.