A casino is a gambling establishment. Unlike the large public gaming houses of the past, modern casinos add entertainment and amenities such as musical shows, food courts, shopping centers, hotel rooms and elaborate themes to attract customers. But the majority of their profits come from games of chance, including slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette. While these features enhance the casino experience, they do not change the fact that the house always wins.

During the Mafia era, organized crime families invested money in the casinos of Reno and Las Vegas, generating enormous profits. But as federal crackdowns made mob involvement a risky proposition, legitimate businessmen with deep pockets bought out the gangsters, taking sole or partial ownership of their casinos and removing them from the gambling taint.

In the twenty-first century, most casino owners focus on attracting high-stakes gamblers who spend much more than the average player and can afford to lose a great deal of money. These gamblers are usually given special room treatment, separate from the main casino floor, where they can make bets ranging in size from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. The casino’s income comes from these high rollers, as well as from the rake taken from poker and other card games. In 2005, Harrah’s Entertainment reported that the typical American casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. This was up from 20% in 1989.