What Is a Casino?
A casino is a gambling establishment where gamblers can place bets on games of chance or skill. Besides the usual table and slot machines, a modern casino often features other gaming options, like video poker. Some casinos specialize in a specific game, such as blackjack or craps. Others feature an eclectic mix of games, including traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan. The casino industry draws in billions each year for companies, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. State and local governments also reap substantial revenues, but some studies suggest that the social costs of compulsive gambling can outweigh any economic benefits.
A large percentage of casino profits come from players who wager high amounts of money. These big bettors are rewarded with free shows and rooms, reduced-fare transportation, and other luxurious inducements. Small bettors are given food and drinks while they play, and some casinos take a percentage of the winnings as a rake. The math behind casino games guarantees that the house will always have a mathematical advantage over the players.
Initially, Mafia gangsters supplied the funds to build and operate Las Vegas casinos and other upscale gambling centers. However, federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a casino license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement forced the mob to find other sources for funding. Real estate developers and hotel chains, with deeper pockets than the mob, purchased many casinos in Nevada and other states.