A casino is a facility that houses gambling games. Although modern casinos add a host of extras like dining, shopping and theaters, they are still fundamentally places where people gamble. While musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels help attract customers, the majority of a casino’s profits are generated by games of chance such as slot machines, blackjack, poker, baccarat and craps.
The first modern casinos were built in Nevada in the 1920s to stimulate economic growth and draw visitors from the eastern seaboard. The owners lacked the capital of legitimate businessmen, so they turned to organized crime figures for funds. Mobster money helped establish Reno and Las Vegas as gambling empires. In time, mobster-owned casinos lost their taint of vice and became profitable enterprises that attracted a new generation of Americans.
Gambling is based on chance, but some games also involve skill. Most casino games give the house a mathematical edge, or expected value, against the players. To offset this edge, the house takes a percentage of all bets. It also pays out winning bets less often than losing ones.
Some modern casinos use sophisticated technology to supervise their games. For example, electronic systems can monitor the exact amount of money being wagered on a table minute-by-minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviation from their expected results. Casinos also employ a high-tech eye in the sky: cameras suspended from the ceiling can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons.