What is a Casino?
Casinos are establishments where patrons can gamble by playing games of chance or skill. Gambling games include slots, roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, craps and video poker. All gambling games have built in odds that give the house at least a small mathematical advantage over the players; this can be expressed more precisely as expected value, which is uniformly negative (from the player’s point of view). Casino profits are derived from these built in probabilities and other fees, such as the vig or rake, taken by the casinos in game of chance.
Modern casinos are often massive and impossibly beautiful, with spectacular decor and a mind-blowing number of games. Some are themed to famous landmarks or cultural events, while others have an entirely unique atmosphere. Some are even family-friendly, with hotels, restaurants and non-gambling activities to keep the whole clan entertained.
The casino as a place to find many different ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. In the early days, casinos were run by organized crime figures, who had plenty of cash from extortion and other illegal rackets. As the casino industry became legitimate, real estate investors and hotel chains took over, acquiring mob-owned casinos. Today, federal crackdowns and the fear of losing a gaming license at the hint of mafia involvement means that the mob is no longer involved in running casinos. Nonetheless, they still provide the bankroll for some of them.