What is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment where people wager money on games of chance or skill. These games include roulette, poker, blackjack and slot machines. People also place bets on sports events and horse races. Several states have legalized casinos, and others permit them on Native American reservations. The gambling industry generates billions of dollars each year for the owners, investors and companies that operate casinos. In addition, it brings in millions of dollars for state and local governments.

Until the 1950s, most casino games were illegal throughout the United States. However, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from extortion and other illegal rackets, and were eager to invest it in Las Vegas. They also had the muscle to run their operations with little interference from law enforcement agencies.

As the industry grew, real estate investors and hotel chains realized they could make big bucks from casinos. The mob continued to finance the industry, but was prevented from controlling the casinos by federal anti-mob regulations and the threat of losing their licenses if they were caught.

Modern casinos are much like indoor amusement parks, with lighted fountains, musical shows and shopping centers, but the vast majority of the profits come from the gambling games. Each game has a built in advantage for the house, which can be very small (less than two percent) but is enough to earn huge profits over time. These profits allow casinos to construct elaborate hotels, pyramids and replicas of famous landmarks.