A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It is often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Its customers gamble by playing games of chance, or skill, and pay a commission (the house edge) to the casino. Some casinos offer free items or entertainment to attract customers.
Modern casinos are like an indoor amusement park for adults, with elaborate themes and dazzling lights. But the majority of their profits—billions annually—still come from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and other games provide the thrills that draw millions of people through casino doors each year.
Casinos are able to make such large profits because they virtually guarantee that they will not lose money on any given day, and that their total profit will always exceed their operating costs. To that end, they entice big bettors with lavish inducements: free spectacular entertainment, luxury hotel rooms, reduced-fare transportation, and even food and drink while they play.
In the past, mobsters provided the financial backing for many of the early casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. In the 1950s, they began to get more involved, taking sole or partial ownership of casinos and exerting direct control over their operations. Mafia money brought a sexy, glamorous image to gambling and helped casinos shake off their seamy associations with crime and vice. Today, casinos use technology to monitor the entire floor and keep patrons safe from cheating, and cameras can be adjusted to focus on suspicious behavior in the blink of an eye.