A casino is an establishment for gambling. It may be combined with a hotel, restaurant, retail shops or other tourist attractions. Some casinos are open to the public, while others are private clubs for members. Some states have legalized casinos, while others have prohibited them or only permit them on Indian reservations or on riverboats.
Casinos are an enormous source of entertainment and billions in profits for their owners. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help draw in patrons, but casinos would not exist without games of chance like slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and keno.
In the beginning, gangsters controlled many of the world’s first casinos. They financed the operations with money earned from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal activities and used mob power to influence the outcome of some games. As the industry grew, legitimate businessmen with deeper pockets bought out the mobsters and took over. Donald Trump and the Hilton hotel company are just a couple of examples. Federal crackdowns on organized crime and the threat of losing a gaming license at any hint of mob involvement keep the Mafia away from today’s casinos.
Casinos also make their money by giving “comps” to high rollers. These are free goods or services that the casino gives to people who play a lot of table games or slots. Comps can include free meals, hotel rooms, transportation and limo service. Casinos also sell “comps” to people who are not big gamblers but spend a lot of time at the casino.