A casino is a building that houses a variety of games of chance. While it has become common for a casino to offer other types of entertainment such as restaurants, music and stage shows, the vast majority of its profits still come from gambling activities. The word is a shortened form of the Greek kainos, meaning “house” or “gambling place.”
While casinos have many amenities to attract patrons (including free drinks and luxurious living quarters), they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and other table games generate the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year.
In the past, mobsters controlled much of the gambling business in Nevada and elsewhere. They supplied the money for casino construction and expansion, took full or partial ownership of casinos and manipulated the outcome of some games. The threat of federal crackdowns and the likelihood of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement kept legitimate businessmen away from casinos for some time.
Today’s casinos are more choosy about whom they accept as gamblers. A typical gambler in a casino is a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with an above average income. They are most likely to play video poker or keno. Often these players gamble in special rooms separate from the main casino floor, and their stakes may be as high as tens of thousands of dollars. These gamblers are known as “high rollers,” and the casinos subsidize their visits with comps (free entertainment, room service, transportation and other inducements). The casino industry also spends a significant amount of money on security.