A casino is a building that offers gamblers the opportunity to play games of chance and sometimes skill. Games such as blackjack, baccarat and poker bring in billions of dollars for casino owners every year. Other forms of entertainment are available, such as restaurants and shows, but the vast majority of money a patron can spend at a casino comes from gambling.
In the early days of casino gambling, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in such ventures because they had a seamy image. The mob supplied the capital and helped to give casinos a reputation for glamour, and many mafia figures took sole or partial ownership of individual casinos. Some even used their influence to manipulate the results of certain games, and this practice is now known as crooked gaming or rigged gambling.
To protect themselves from cheating, casinos employ a variety of security measures. Most casinos use chips instead of cash, which allows the casino to keep a closer eye on each transaction. Some casinos also monitor each game with a video camera or an electronic system that tracks bets minute by minute, so statistical deviations can be detected.
Some casinos offer free drinks and food to attract players and encourage them to stay longer. This is called comping, and big bettors can receive free hotel rooms, dinners, tickets to shows and limo service, among other perks. But some studies show that compulsive gambling can wreak havoc on a community, by shifting spending from other forms of entertainment and lowering property values in the area.