A casino is a place where people gamble by playing games of chance or, in some cases, of skill. Its revenue stream is generated by a combination of a vig (short for vigorish) or rake, a commission taken from players on games like blackjack and video poker, as well as comps, free goods or services offered to regular customers by the casino.
In the early 1980s, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets realized that casinos were a cash cow. With mob influence gone and federal crackdowns on any hint of Mafia involvement, legitimate casino businesses were allowed to flourish. Casinos became more than just gambling establishments; they were elaborate hotels and entertainment centers with fountains, towers, and replicas of famous landmarks.
Because of the huge sums of money handled within a casino, there are always temptations for patrons and staff to cheat or steal. This is why casinos spend so much time and money on security measures.
As a result of this emphasis on safety, casinos have added many amenities designed to draw in gamblers. Among these are restaurants with gourmet cuisine, spectacular floor shows and luxury living quarters for high rollers. Even the least frequent gamblers can enjoy complimentary drinks, snacks and all-you-can-eat buffets. Despite these perks, studies indicate that the net economic benefit to a community from a casino is negative, primarily because of a loss of local spending on other forms of entertainment; the cost of treating gambling addictions; and lower property values in the surrounding area.