What Is a Casino?

A casino is a building or room in which games of chance are played. Traditionally, casinos have been staffed by experienced and professional employees, and the staff is generally required to dress in formal attire. Casinos offer a wide variety of gambling games, such as dice, cards and slot machines, and may also feature entertainment acts and restaurants. Some casinos are connected to hotels or other resorts, and some are part of cruise ships or theme parks.

When modern casino-style gambling first emerged in the 1950s, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest their money in the venture because of its seamy reputation. But organized crime gangs had plenty of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets, and they happily supplied the funding to expand and renovate the new casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. In many cases, mobsters became personally involved, took sole or partial ownership of the casinos and even influenced the results of some games by threatening casino personnel.

Today’s casinos are far more sophisticated than their predecessors. They rely on technology to oversee the games and to detect any statistical deviations from expected outcomes. For example, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that interacts with systems that keep track of the exact amounts wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any unusual patterns of spins.

But no matter how high-tech the casino, there is one thing that never changes: the house always wins. Every game that a casino offers has a built-in advantage for the house, and over time that advantage adds up to enormous profits.

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