What is a Casino?

A casino is a large gambling establishment offering a variety of games like poker, blackjack, and slot machines. Some casinos also offer sports betting and dining. Casinos can be found around the world, with some of the most famous being located in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. Some casinos have more glitz and glamour than others, with some providing a luxurious experience while others cater to the more serious gambler.

Casinos earn money from the house edge built into every game, a tiny percentage of each bet that is collected by the casino over time. This advantage can be less than two percent, but it adds up to millions of dollars over the billions of bets placed by casino patrons each year. This advantage is referred to as the “vig” or the “rake.” Casinos use this income to finance huge hotels, elaborate fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

In the 1950s, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets to invest in Nevada’s growing casino business. They supplied the capital to expand and renovate Reno and Las Vegas, and took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. Legitimate businesses had more money than the mobsters, however, and they quickly bought out the mob’s interest in casinos, allowing them to operate without the taint of Mafia involvement. This also allowed them to avoid the risk of losing their gaming licenses at even the slightest hint of mob influence.

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