Traditionally, a casino is a place where gambling games of chance can be played. Modern casinos add many luxuries such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract patrons. There have been less luxurious places that housed gambling activities, however, and they would still be considered casinos by Merriam-Webster standards.
Unlike other forms of gambling, such as horse racing or lotteries, in which the outcome is determined by chance, casinos depend on mathematically determined odds to make money. Every game offered by a casino has a built-in advantage for the casino, sometimes called the “house edge” or the “expected value.” This profit is what allows casinos to build pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks as well as maintain elaborate hotel accommodations and other amenities.
Some games require some skill (such as blackjack, video poker and craps) but most rely on pure luck. Regardless, casinos never lose money because the built-in house advantage ensures that they will always earn more than they pay out to gamblers. This is known as the casino’s “vigorish.”
In addition to this virtual guarantee of gross profit, casinos earn extra money by offering comps, or complimentary items, to high rollers and frequent visitors. These may include limo service, free shows and restaurant or hotel rooms. The casino business is also highly regulated. Due to the large amounts of cash handled within casinos, security is a major concern. Cameras and other technical measures help deter theft by either patrons or staff, while strict rules of behavior prevent cheating or collusion.