The Casino Industry

A casino is a place where people gamble. Gambling has been a part of human society for millennia. It began with betting on dice in China in 2300 BC, was popularized by cards in the 1400s and eventually morphed into modern blackjack, roulette and other table games. Casinos offer gamblers the chance to bet against the house, with the advantage of being able to keep their winnings.

The earliest casinos were financed by organized crime mobs. As criminal money flowed into Las Vegas and Reno in the 1950s, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved because of gambling’s seamy image. The mobsters were not, and they took sole or partial ownership of many casinos and exerted control over operations by intimidating and coercing casino personnel.

As their reputation spread, more legal businessmen got involved, and as casinos became more legitimized, they shifted from the old mafia model to a more corporate structure. Today, most casinos are owned by private companies and operate under a license issued by the state or federal government.

To calculate their odds of making a profit on any given game, casinos must know the house edge and variance. This information allows them to project a mathematical expectation of winning or losing, and it helps them make intelligent decisions about how much to invest in each machine and how many to install. To find these figures, a casino must employ mathematicians and computer programmers who are experts in the field of gaming analysis. The casino industry also uses sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor player behavior and identify cheating.