A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. A more sophisticated, modern casino may include a wide range of amenities and services like restaurants, free drinks and spectacular stage shows, while a less extravagant establishment might simply be a room with a poker table or a handful of slot machines. In either case, the idea behind a casino is to make money by drawing in patrons and keeping them there, with a house edge that ensures profits over time.
Every game at a casino has some built in mathematical advantage for the house, even if it only amounts to two percent or less. This house edge, also known as the vig or rake, is what allows casinos to pay out winnings to players. A casino might take a larger share of the pot, however, by offering certain inducements to bigger bettors, such as free or reduced-fare transportation and luxurious living quarters.
Historically, mobster involvement with casinos has been high, with mobsters often taking over and running operations. But real estate investors and hotel chains with deeper pockets bought out the mobsters, and federal crackdowns on organized crime have made it much harder for mobster involvement to occur.
Most American casinos focus on slot machines, with blackjack and poker the next most popular games. However, many casinos offer traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan, and baccarat, as well as local variations on these games.