What is a Casino?

Casinos are entertainment centers based on games of chance. They include table games like blackjack and craps and slot machines. Casinos also feature musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels. While these amenities draw in the crowds, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars that gambling machines and tables bring in each year.

While the precise origin of gambling is unknown, it is believed that it is seen in almost every society throughout history in one form or another. The modern casino is more akin to an indoor amusement park for adults than a place where people actually gamble. It has been found that something about the atmosphere of a casino encourages cheating, stealing and general dishonesty. For this reason, casinos invest enormous amounts of time and money on security.

In the beginning, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to become involved with casinos because of their seamy reputation. Mafia members, however, had plenty of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets and had no problem funding the casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. In return, they received sole or partial ownership of the casinos and the right to influence game outcomes.

Casinos make their money from the statistical advantage they hold over bettors on their games. This advantage can be as low as two percent, but it can add up to massive profits over millions of bets. Casinos use these profits to pay for hotels, water slides, musical shows, shopping centers and replicas of famous monuments. To stay competitive, they also offer special inducements to big bettors in the form of free spectacular entertainment and reduced-fare transportation. In addition, they give away free food and drinks to keep players on the premises (while not reducing the house edge).