Whether you want to spin the slots, put on your poker face or roll the dice at the craps table, casinos are the best place to scratch that gambling itch. But if you’re looking beyond the bright lights, elaborate themes and musical shows that draw in the crowds, it’s important to understand how casinos make money, the history behind them and how their business models differ from other forms of gambling.
Most casino games are banked, meaning that the house takes a percentage of the total amount bet. This advantage is based on mathematically determined odds, and is known as the house edge. In games with an element of skill, such as blackjack and video poker, the house’s edge can be minimized by learning the game’s basic strategy. In games that are not played against the house, such as baccarat and poker, the casino earns its revenue by taking a commission on bets, known as the rake.
Security at a casino starts on the floor, where employees keep an eye out for suspicious gamblers and can quickly spot blatant cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” that allows security personnel to monitor every table, window and doorway. Cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons by security workers in a separate room filled with banks of computer screens. The video feeds are also recorded, so if a crime or suspicious activity occurs, the casino can review tapes to identify the perpetrator.