When most Americans think of casino, they picture a massive hotel and entertainment complex blazing with neon lights. But a casino is actually much more than that; it’s any establishment where people can gamble and play games of chance. Casinos generate billions of dollars each year for the owners, investors and Native American tribes that operate them as well as state and local governments that reap tax revenues. But, like any business in a capitalist society, casinos are in the business to make money.

To do so, they must attract and keep customers. So, they use a variety of tricks to encourage patrons to spend more and stay longer. For example, slot machines are computer-engineered to be pleasing to the eye and ear with flashing lights, bells and the electronic sound of dropping coins during payouts. They’re also tuned to the musical key of C to evoke happy emotions and blend into the background noise of the casino floor.

Table games are also carefully crafted to appeal to the senses of sight, touch and smell. Dealers are trained to spot a wide range of cheating methods, from palming to marking or switching cards and dice. They’re also able to read betting patterns and detect the slightest deviation from the expected return on bets.

Casinos are virtually assured of gross profit because each game has a built-in statistical advantage for the house. This can be as small as two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets made each day. This profit is supplemented by the so-called vig, or rake, taken from each bet placed at the casino tables and in video poker.