A casino is a place where people gamble money on games of chance. While a casino can feature entertainment, shopping centers, restaurants and hotels, the bulk of its profits comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are among the many popular games played in casinos. While the glitz of Las Vegas and other gambling destinations help draw people, a casino’s primary purpose is to provide an environment in which people can play games of chance for real money.

A modern casino offers a wide variety of games and is designed around noise, light and excitement. The gaming floor is often crowded with people betting and yelling encouragement to their fellow players. Some casinos also offer a more luxurious atmosphere, with floor shows, golf and spa services. For example, the Bellagio in Las Vegas features a branch of New York’s Le Cirque restaurant as well as Hermes and Chanel boutiques. In addition, some casinos feature catwalks in the ceiling that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, on the activities at tables and slot machines.

In the United States, about 51 million people—a group that includes roughly one-quarter of the adult population over age 21—visited a casino in 2002. The figure is likely much higher for casino gamblers outside the United States. Most of these people are men and women in their 40s, who earn above-average incomes. They tend to prefer games of skill such as poker and blackjack, which require some degree of strategy. Casinos rely on mathematical analysis to maximize their profits, and hire mathematicians and computer programmers to calculate the house edge and variance for each game they offer.