What is a Casino?
A casino is an establishment for gambling. The word is also used to describe a place where people watch live entertainment, such as a concert or a game of sports. Some casinos are combined with hotels, restaurants and retail shops. In military and non-military usage, the term may refer to an officers’ club.
The history of casinos is closely linked to the legalization of gambling. In the United States, it started in Nevada after World War II and quickly spread to other states that adopted it. Until the 1990s, organized crime figures controlled most of the casinos, and mob money helped finance their expansion and keep them running even after federal crackdowns. Today, real estate and hotel investors with deeper pockets control the majority of the nation’s casinos, and the mob is no longer directly involved in gambling operations.
While musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels attract gamblers and enhance their experience, casinos would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, craps, roulette, baccarat and blackjack generate the billions in profits that casinos rake in each year. All of these games, including poker, have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house always has an advantage over patrons (this is sometimes referred to as expected value).
Because of this virtual guarantee of gross profit, many casinos regularly offer large bettors free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation and elegant living quarters. This is in addition to the usual perks offered to all patrons: free drinks and cigarettes while gambling, and complimentary food and merchandise.