A casino, also known as a gambling establishment or card room, is a place where people can wager on games of chance. Gaming in some form has been part of human culture throughout history. Casinos are usually massive buildings that feature a mix of table and slot machines, along with other traditional gambling games like poker and craps.
Besides gambling, casinos offer restaurants, bars, hotels, and other entertainment options. Some are reminiscent of old-world European palaces; others are modern glass-and-steel temples. Many have entertainment venues featuring live performances by popular music artists. In the United States, there are more than 1,000 casinos. Many of them are located in Las Vegas, although there are significant numbers in other cities as well.
In 2008, the majority of casino patrons preferred to play slot machines. Other popular games included baccarat and blackjack. Casinos hire mathematicians and computer programmers to analyze game theory and mathematically model the house edge and variance of their slot machines. This work is performed either in-house or outsourced to companies specializing in game analysis.
To encourage gamblers to spend more money, casinos typically provide a variety of comps. These can include free hotel rooms, meals, drinks, and show tickets. Some casinos also have clubs that allow frequent-flyer-type members to earn points and exchange them for cash or other prizes. These programs help casinos develop a database of customer spending habits and track trends. They can also be useful marketing tools.