Casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. It is a very popular activity and according to the American Gaming Association about 51 million people–or a quarter of all Americans over 21–visited a casino in 2002. Casinos are designed to be fun and exciting, with elaborate hotels, fountains, pyramids, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. The profits generated by the millions of bets placed by patrons help pay for these extras. But the real money is made by the house, which has a built in statistical advantage for each game. This advantage can be lower than two percent, but over time it adds up to huge sums of money for the casino owners.
The first casinos were built in Nevada in the 1950s, when state law allowed them to attract tourists from across the country and around the world. During this time, mobster money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas. Unlike legitimate businessmen, mafia leaders were not afraid of gambling’s seamy image and often took sole or partial ownership of the casinos, and used their influence to control operations. They also bribed or threatened casino employees to manipulate the outcomes of certain games.
Today, casinos have become a major industry, with thousands of casinos worldwide. They can be found in cities and towns, on cruise ships, in luxury resorts and in remote locales. Although they do not always cater to players’ needs as well as they should, the best casinos are still great places to enjoy a wide range of gambling games, dining and entertainment options.