The Casino Advantage


Unlike some other forms of gambling, casinos make money by offering games with built in advantages for the house. This advantage can be very small – lower than two percent, for example, in blackjack, or higher, such as the six-percent rake in poker – but over time, it adds up. The profit from these advantages helps pay for the fancy hotels, water shows, restaurants and theme parks that attract customers.

The modern casino is more like an indoor amusement park for adults, with elaborate themes and high-end entertainment offerings attracting billions of dollars in profits each year. While stage shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels draw in gamblers, most of the fun (and profit) is generated by games of chance such as slot machines, baccarat, blackjack and roulette. Craps and other table games with a higher degree of skill are also popular in many European and Asian casinos.

Security is a major concern in any casino, and it starts on the floor with casino employees monitoring patrons for cheating, stealing or other suspicious behavior. On the higher levels, banks of monitors provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky view that can be adjusted to focus on particular tables or patrons. Often, the eye-in-the-sky system can detect patterns of betting that indicate a patron is trying to cheat. In addition to the security cameras, most modern casinos have a large number of employees watching the action on the floor. These people can stop a player who is cheating before he or she makes it to the table or machine.