A casino is a gambling establishment that offers the opportunity to win money through games of chance. A casino may also offer other amenities such as restaurants, drinks and stage shows. Casinos make their money through gambling and take a percentage of each bet as a “vig,” or rake. They may also have an edge built into their odds, which can be as small as two percent in some cases.
A number of people gamble in casinos, from your grandmother taking weekend bus trips to her favorite local casino with friends to big-money whales who gamble tens of thousands of dollars at a time. While some of this money is returned to the players in the form of payouts, most of it comes from the billions of dollars that casino games generate in revenue each year.
Something about gambling—perhaps the presence of large amounts of money—seems to encourage cheating, stealing and other questionable tactics. As a result, casinos spend a significant amount of their money on security.
As the casino business expanded in Nevada in the 1950s, owners sought funds to finance expansion and renovation in hopes of drawing even more Americans. At the time, legitimate businessmen were wary of investing in casinos, which carried the stigma of being a criminal enterprise. Mafia gangsters, on the other hand, had plenty of cash from their drug dealing and extortion rackets, and they saw the potential profits to be made in Reno and Las Vegas. As a result, mobster investors bought up casino properties and took sole or partial ownership of many.