A casino is a building or room where gambling games are played. It is also a place where patrons socialize and drink. Casinos are operated by private companies, Native American tribes and state governments. They earn billions of dollars each year. This article looks at the history of casinos, popular games, how they make money and the dark side of the business.
Something about the presence of large amounts of money encourages people to cheat, steal or scam their way into a jackpot. This is why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. Casinos use bright, sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that stimulate the senses. Colors like red are thought to cause people to lose track of time. They usually have no clocks on the walls. Casinos are arranged in a maze-like fashion so that wandering patrons will be continuously enticed to more gambling options. Bells, lights and the clang of dropping coins add to the sensory appeal.
Slot machines and (since the 1980s) video poker are the economic mainstay of many American casinos. These machines have a mathematical advantage over the players, but the casinos reduce their percentage to entice gamblers. Games that require more skill, such as blackjack and baccarat, often have house advantages of less than 1 percent.
Some casinos feature traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai-gow. Those in Las Vegas are famous for their extravagant inducements for big bettors, including free spectacular entertainment, chauffeur-driven transportation and elegant living quarters. Casinos also offer reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms to lesser bettors.