The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it has long been an entertainment form in some way or another. The modern casino looks more like an indoor amusement park for adults than a traditional place to wager, but even with elaborate themes, musical shows, shopping centers and hotels, casinos would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno account for the billions in profits raked in by casinos each year.

A casino’s mathematical expectancy of winning gives it a virtual guarantee of gross profit, and to ensure this advantage, casinos spend large amounts on security. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that monitors every table, window and doorway. Cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons and can even be trained on suspicious behavior. Moreover, each slot machine is wired to a central system that determines payouts. In the event of a malfunction, technicians can remotely check for trouble.

In addition to monitoring patrons, casinos also encourage gamblers to return frequently by offering comps (complimentary) based on play. These programs often include free or reduced-fare transportation, luxury hotel rooms and spectacular entertainment. For lesser players, casinos provide electronic cards that can be swiped before each game to record spending and play habits and tally points toward rewards.

You can’t eliminate the house edge in a casino, but you can reduce it by learning basic strategy for any game you plan to play. There are many online tutorials for card games, and for those willing to put in the time, more advanced strategies can even give you a 1-2% edge over the casino.