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What is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and accepts wagers on those games. A casino is often lavishly decorated and has amenities like restaurants, free drinks, stage shows, and dramatic scenery. Casinos are businesses that must make money to survive, and mathematical odds always favor the house. The casinos attract patrons by offering them comps, such as free hotel rooms, tickets to shows, limo service, and airline tickets, which they give to their high rollers.

In the past, organized crime gangsters controlled most of the nation’s casinos. They had the cash from extortion, drug dealing and other illegal activities to finance them. They often took sole or partial ownership of the casinos, and they influenced the outcomes of some games by intimidating dealers and other casino employees. Casino owners soon realized that legitimate businessmen had more money than the mobsters, and they began buying out the gangsters. Today, hotel chains such as the Hilton and Trump have several casinos, and they run them without mob interference.

Despite the glamour, gambling is not for everyone. Generally, those who gamble at a casino are of an older age and have more disposable income than younger people. According to a 2003 Gallup poll, approximately 30 percent of Americans visit casinos. Harrah’s Entertainment reports that its customer profile for the typical American casino gambler is a forty-six-year-old female from a household with an above-average income. This demographic, which is also the largest group of visitors to its casinos, is particularly attracted to blackjack, poker and baccarat.