The term casino may refer to a variety of places where gambling is legal: the classic Vegas Strip resorts, European-style casinos in cities such as Monte Carlo and Venice, or even small towns with bingo halls and poker rooms. The word has also come to mean a place where people can gamble on sports events.
Casinos have long tried to make themselves attractive destinations to lure customers, offering a wide range of amenities. The luxuries include restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Many offer comfortable hotel rooms, though this is not always a requirement. In the past, gambling establishments were less glamorous.
Something about casinos – perhaps the large amounts of money they handle – seems to encourage cheating, stealing and other crimes. Casino security is extensive and complex. Staff members keep their eyes peeled for blatant scams like palming cards or marking dice, while tables managers and pit bosses follow betting patterns that could signal cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky, monitoring every table, window and doorway. They can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of monitors.
Some casinos are also renowned for their exotic games, which attract visitors from far away. Asian casinos, for instance, specialize in a number of traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo (which spread to several European and American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan and pai-gow. However, slot machines and video poker are the economic mainstays of many American casinos.