Gambling 101 – The Basics of Casinos


Casinos, a popular form of gambling, offer patrons a range of games that involve chance and in some cases skill. These games include craps, roulette, baccarat, blackjack and video poker. Casinos make their profits by taking a percentage of each bet placed by players, known as the house edge. They also take a commission, called the rake, from games such as blackjack and the French card game trente et quarante.

While luxuries such as musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels help draw in customers, casinos would not exist without their primary source of income: gambling. Slot machines, roulette, keno, baccarat and other casino games generate the billions of dollars in profit that casinos rake in each year.

Something about gambling seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and otherwise find ways around the randomness of chance. This is why casinos devote a significant amount of their resources to security. Modern casinos have a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” system that watches every table, change window and doorway.

While many legitimate businessmen were hesitant to invest in casinos, which had the taint of a vice enterprise, organized crime figures saw an opportunity to fund these facilities and gain control over them. Mobster money helped casinos thrive in Nevada and gave them a reputation that continues to this day. The casinos are regulated by state gambling laws and in most cases federal taxes must be withheld from winnings. However, you can deduct your gambling losses on your tax return if you keep careful records of them.