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The Casino Industry

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide variety of games of chance and some skill. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw customers into the building, but casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits from the actual gambling operations. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat provide the entertainment and cash that keep casinos running.

While gambling predates recorded history, the modern casino evolved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In America, casinos first appeared in Atlantic City and other areas of the East Coast. They then began appearing on American Indian reservations, where they were not subject to state antigambling laws. During the 1980s, casinos spread throughout the United States and began to appear in other parts of the world.

Gambling is not completely random, but most casino games have a built in statistical advantage for the house that ensures that it will eventually win the majority of bets placed on them. This edge, often called the house edge, is small but over time it adds up to significant profits for the casino. Those profits are then used to build the dazzling casinos with their enormous size, elaborate decor and a mindblowing number of games.

The casino industry is extremely competitive. To attract customers, they offer comps (free items such as food and rooms) and high-stakes gambling. The latter is often done in rooms separate from the main casino floor and involves large amounts of money, often tens of thousands of dollars. These high rollers generate much of the revenue that keeps casinos operating, and they receive special attention from casino managers.

While there is always the temptation to cheat and steal, both patrons and staff members are closely watched by security cameras in casinos. Some casinos use video poker machines that are wired to a central computer so that any statistical deviation from expected results will be detected quickly. Other security measures include requiring that all gamblers sign a credit card receipt and limiting the amount of cash they can carry into the casino.

The mob may have provided the initial funding for many of the world’s casinos, but legitimate businessmen soon realized how lucrative they could be. Real estate investors and hotel chains were able to pay more than the mafia was offering, and bought out the mob holdings in casinos. Mob control of casinos waned in the 1990s as federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a license at the slightest hint of mafia involvement caused organized crime to shift its focus away from the gambling business. Casinos are now operated by companies with deep pockets such as Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel chain. This has helped to keep mobsters out of the gaming business and the casinos themselves clean. A few mob-controlled casinos still operate in the United States, but they are a fraction of what they once were. This has helped the casino business thrive worldwide.