In its simplest form, a casino is simply a public place where a variety of games of chance can be played. In practice, casinos often add a host of other luxuries to attract and keep gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Gambling is an ancient activity that has been a part of almost every culture throughout history.
Most casinos offer comps to frequent players, allowing them to exchange their points for free slot play, food or drinks. They also employ elaborate surveillance systems that allow security personnel to watch every table, window and doorway simultaneously. These cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons if a crime or cheating is suspected.
Casinos also have a built in advantage in all of their games, based on mathematically determined odds. This advantage is called the house edge, and it can be lower than two percent in some games, but it adds up over time. The casino earns money by charging a commission on each bet, sometimes called the vig or rake, and also by taking a small percentage of winning bets, a process known as the vigorish.
The mob controlled many of the casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, but when real estate developers and hotel chains saw how much they could make from gambling, they bought out the gangsters and ran their own establishments. The casino industry continues to grow, with new facilities popping up all over the world.