The Casino Business


A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and hotels help draw the crowds, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits raked in by the games themselves. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat and roulette are the games that give casinos their raison d’ĂȘtre. This article takes a look at the history of casinos, how they make money, what kind of patrons they attract and some of the dark side of their business.

The precise origins of gambling are unknown, but it is widely believed that humans have always been drawn to the thrill of risk-taking. Even today, it is estimated that the global market for gambling is worth over $70 billion. Casinos make their money by charging for admission and taking a percentage of the total bets placed. The croupiers and dealers that run the various games are paid a commission, known as the “rake.”

While most casinos offer a wide range of entertainment options, gambling remains their primary attraction. In 2005, the average American casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. This demographic is expected to continue growing as baby boomers age and as more states amend their antigambling laws to allow for casinos on American Indian reservations.

Many casinos employ a variety of security measures to ensure the safety of their patrons and to protect the assets they hold in trust. The most obvious security measure is the use of surveillance cameras located throughout the facility. However, the human element is equally important. Casino personnel are trained to recognize unusual behavior and to take appropriate action. The routines and patterns of the different casino games are also carefully monitored, since these can be used to spot attempts at cheating or theft.

Casinos also rely on the mathematical analysis of their various games to determine how much profit they can expect to make on each wager. This work is often outsourced to specialists in the field, known as gaming mathematicians or gaming analysts. The house edge and variance are calculated for each game, allowing the casino to know exactly how much it can lose on a given wager and how much to limit its losses.

The high house advantage of many casino games gives the house a virtual assurance of gross profit. This allows them to offer large bettors extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment and luxurious living quarters. They may also subsidize smaller bettors with reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms and free drinks and cigarettes while they gamble. The resulting positive customer experience is what distinguishes the best casinos from their competitors. These casinos are known as the elite of the industry.