A casino is a gambling establishment with an emphasis on games of chance. Its modern form began in Las Vegas during the 1940s, but gambling existed in many forms throughout history. Today casinos look like indoor amusement parks for adults, complete with musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes. But a casino’s bottom line comes from gambling: slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games of chance earn billions in profits for the owners every year.

The casino business is a highly competitive industry. The best-known casinos compete with each other, but they also contend with nongambling resorts, on-line gambling and an illegal gambling business much larger than the legal one. A casino can be extremely profitable, but it isn’t immune to financial difficulties.

Casinos make money by giving patrons a statistical advantage in some games and taking a cut of the money gamblers bet. This edge can be as low as two percent, but over millions of bets it adds up to huge profits for the casino. In addition, most casinos collect a fee for each slot machine spin, and the tables charge a minimum bet or “vig” in order to cover operating costs. A casino may also profit from high-stakes gamblers, offering them comps (free rooms and other perks) worth thousands of dollars. According to a 2005 study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS, the average casino patron is a forty-six-year-old female with above-average income.