The Casino Industry

Beneath the flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed their patrons of cash. Physicists have for years tried to turn this against the house, using their knowledge of probability and game theory to exploit weaknesses in a rigged system.

The casino industry is primarily focused on gambling games such as roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker, and slot machines. These are often combined with other amenities such as restaurants, hotels, retail shops, and even cruise ships. Many states have legalized casinos, or have permitted them on Indian reservations. A few have banned them, while others regulate them.

Casinos earn money by a variety of means, including the rake — the commission that dealers receive for dealing each hand. This varies by game, but typically is higher for games that involve skill. The house edge — the advantage the casino has over the player — is also highly variable, depending on the rules of the game, the number of decks used, and the dealer’s training and experience.

Some casinos focus on customer service, providing perks such as discounted hotel rates, free meals, and show tickets to encourage gamblers to spend more. This was particularly important during the 1970s, when Las Vegas casinos were trying to maximize their gaming revenue by filling their hotels and casino floors with as many people as possible. Some casinos even prohibit their dealers from wearing watches, because they want the gamblers to lose track of time and keep playing.