What is a Casino?


A casino is a place that offers a variety of gambling games under one roof. These establishments have a long and colorful history. Gambling in some form or another has been part of nearly every culture on earth throughout recorded history. From primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) to sophisticated sexy machines, the thrill of winning and the fear of losing have always been present. The modern casino is a multibillion-dollar industry, with many famous names such as Caesars Entertainment operating casinos worldwide.

Casinos make money by taking a small percentage of all bets placed by patrons, called the house edge or vigorish. The amount varies by game, but it is generally less than two percent. Over time and millions of bets this advantage makes a huge difference in the profits for the casino. This is how casinos are able to afford all the fancy luxuries that we associate with these places, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows.

Until the 1950s the vast majority of casinos were owned and operated by organized crime groups. Mobster money was plentiful, and mafia-owned casinos could often avoid federal raids by keeping their operations quiet. Mobster involvement waned, however, as legitimate businessmen realized that casinos could be profitable cash cows. Donald Trump and hotel chains such as the Hilton began buying out old mob casinos, allowing them to operate without the taint of illicit origins.

Even though there is a definite house edge, gamblers usually find that they can win more than they lose at most casinos. This is why these establishments spend so much money on security. Casinos are able to afford elaborate surveillance systems with multiple cameras that monitor the activities of all patrons, as well as hidden rooms where gamblers can be monitored in private. Casinos also have special catwalks that allow employees to watch directly down, through one-way glass, on the actions of all players at a given table or slot machine.

Because of these precautions, it is rare for a casino to lose money on any day. This virtual assurance of gross profit allows the owners to lavish huge inducements on big bettors, such as free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation and elegant living quarters. Lesser bettors are also pampered, with free drinks and cigars while gambling, and free or reduced-fare food in the restaurants. All of this is done to keep the gamblers happy, so they will return. As a result, the casino industry is one of the most lucrative and fun in the world.