What Is a Casino?


A Casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played and where gambling is the primary activity. It also includes a wide variety of other activities, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. This type of establishment is often built near hotels, resorts, or other tourist attractions.

Most games of chance, and many of the other games offered in casinos, have a built-in advantage for the house that is uniformly negative from the player’s perspective. This advantage, sometimes called the house edge, is mathematically determined. The casinos’ revenue comes from the vig (vigorish) or the commission (rake) they take on each bet. Unlike other businesses, a casino can lose money on any given day and still be profitable over the long term.

The modern casino has a very sophisticated security department. In addition to a physical security force, most have a specialized surveillance department that monitors all activity in and around the casino. These departments work closely together and are able to quickly detect any suspicious or criminal activity.

Until the 1950s, most casinos were financed by organized crime groups. Mobster money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas, but federal crackdowns on mob involvement and the risk of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mafia involvement drove legitimate businessmen to invest in casinos instead. Eventually, large hotel and real estate investment companies bought out the mobsters and now own many of the largest and most famous casinos in America.

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