The Casino Is More Than Just A Gambling Establishment


A casino is a gambling establishment where customers play games of chance. Games like slots, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and craps generate billions of dollars in profits for casinos every year. But a casino is more than just a place to gamble; it’s an entertainment complex, and many of them have a wide variety of non-gambling activities.

The word casino was derived from the Italian term casina, meaning “little house.” Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice among the oldest archaeological evidence. But the casino as we know it today didn’t emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and wealthy nobles gathered in aristocratic private clubs called ridotti to wager on a multitude of different games.

As the number of casinos grew, owners looked for ways to finance their lavish expansions and renovations. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to touch a gambling operation with its seamy reputation, but organized crime moguls had plenty of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets. Mob money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas, giving casinos a boost that they needed to become profitable. Mobster involvement soon became personal, as mob leaders took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and exerted control over others.

The casino industry eventually shifted away from mob control. Real estate investors and hotel chains, with deep pockets, began to buy out mafia-controlled casinos and start operating them independently. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement also helped to keep legitimate businesses away from these cash cows.

Casinos now compete with each other to be the biggest in their region or even the world. This is reflected in their ever-larger buffets, hotels and games, as well as their star-studded attractions.

But no matter how big a casino is or what it offers, there’s one thing all casinos have in common: they make money. This is because each game has a built in advantage for the casino, which can be as low as two percent. This edge is known as the “house edge” or vig, and it can vary by game.

Most people know that the house always wins in casino games, but many don’t realize how much of an advantage this is. In fact, it’s very rare for a casino to lose money on any of its games. This is because every game has a mathematical expectation of winning, and the house is not willing to risk its reputation as a safe haven for gamblers by breaking this rule. Casinos know that their patrons may not be aware of this fact, so they do all they can to keep them gambling longer, including removing clocks and windows from the premises, and offering free drinks that can obscure a person’s sense of time. This is why casinos are notorious for not having any clocks or windows, and for serving alcohol – to keep the players from thinking about how long they’ve been playing.