A casino is an establishment for gambling. Most casinos feature slot machines, table games and other games of chance. Some have live entertainment and restaurants, as well. Some are also known as gaming houses or kasinos. The word casino is derived from the Italian word cazino, meaning small house.
The modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park, with the vast majority of the fun and profits coming from gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in the crowds, but it is games of chance such as slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, poker and more that provide the billions in profits that casinos are able to turn over each year.
Most casino games have a built in statistical advantage for the house. This advantage is usually less than two percent and is referred to as the house edge or vig. In games such as poker where players compete against each other, the house also takes a cut of the bets called the rake.
In the past, organized crime groups controlled many casinos. Mob money fueled the growth of Reno and Las Vegas, but federal crackdowns and fears of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mob involvement led legitimate businesses to buy out the mobsters. The result is that today’s casino is likely to be owned by a hotel/casino chain or some other major company. These companies have deep pockets and are able to afford the high rents that a casino requires. They are also able to attract high rollers who can afford the bigger bets that are required to maintain the high limits that are available in many casino games.