What is a Casino?

A casino is an establishment for gambling. The games that are played in casinos include poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and various slot machines. Some casinos also offer a wide range of other entertainment such as live music and theater shows. Casinos are often combined with hotels and other facilities such as restaurants and retail shopping.

Four things come together to make a game profitable for a casino: the popularity of the game, its odds, the player’s skills and pure luck. In the long run, however, the house always wins. This is because each game has a built-in advantage for the casino, which can be very small (less than two percent). This advantage, called the “house edge,” ensures that the casino will eventually earn more money than it loses.

Throughout history casinos have been funded by organized crime figures and tycoons who saw the opportunity to capitalize on gambling’s seamy reputation. Mob money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas during the 1950s, and mobster involvement in casinos reached the point where they controlled or owned many of them. Federal crackdowns and the prospect of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement soon drove mobster involvement out of casinos, and legitimate businessmen took control of most of them.

Modern casinos are highly sophisticated and employ a variety of technological measures to protect players and their assets. Electronic systems monitor betting chips with built-in microcircuitry to enable them to be supervised minute by minute; cameras on the ceiling watch every table, change window and doorway; and slot machines are wired to a central server so that any statistical deviation from expected results can be detected immediately.