Casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for their owners, which include corporations and investors as well as Native American tribes. They offer both games of chance and skill, and they can be found in massive resorts built around gaming floors or in smaller card rooms. Casino games are also often available at racetracks, in truck stops and even in bars and grocery stores. Successful casinos attract a wide range of patrons, from wealthy high rollers to families on a budget. They feature a variety of entertainment, from musical shows and lighted fountains to shopping centers and elaborate hotels.
The most popular casino games are slot machines, blackjack and craps. Other games such as roulette, baccarat and poker can be found in casinos as well. All of these games have a certain statistical advantage for the house, which is known as the house edge. This advantage can be as low as two percent, but over time it adds up to the millions of bets placed by gamblers each day, earning the casino billions. Casinos earn the rest of their profits by charging a small fee for each bet, called a vig or rake, to cover operating costs.
To keep their patrons happy, casinos provide a variety of perks to encourage gambling and reward loyalty. These perks, which are called comps, can be as simple as free meals or hotel rooms or as complex as airline tickets and limousine service. They are typically based on how much money a gambler spends.
Most casinos are heavily guarded, both for security and to prevent cheating or collusion amongst gamblers. Table game dealers must constantly watch their backs and are supervised by pit bosses who can easily spot suspicious behavior such as marking or palming cards. Elaborate surveillance systems use a “eye-in-the-sky” approach to monitor every table, window and doorway. In addition, computer chips in table game betting chips monitor the exact amounts wagered minute by minute and alert casino staff if any deviations occur.
The casino industry is highly competitive and many operators try to draw customers from as wide an area as possible. For example, a Las Vegas casino may advertise deep discounts on travel packages, cheap buffets and free show tickets in order to fill the hotel rooms. Casinos also compete by offering different types of gambling, such as horse racing and racinos, in order to attract more people. They also invest in marketing and promotions, such as promoting their brands through television and radio commercials. Some casinos also own and operate a number of restaurants and retail shops. Gambling addiction is a serious problem for many, and studies indicate that compulsive gambling takes a toll on local economies by diverting resources from other forms of entertainment and by reducing worker productivity. This has led to increased state regulation and social services for gambling addicts. Some economists argue that this outweighs any economic benefits from casinos.