A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. Although musical shows, lighted fountains and dramatic scenery are part of the attraction, casinos would not exist without games of chance like slot machines, blackjack, poker and craps that bring in the billions of dollars in profits.
Although there is an element of skill in some games, most games have mathematically determined odds that ensure that the house always wins. This advantage is called the house edge. In order to maximize profits, casinos offer gamblers various incentives to spend money on their tables and machines. These perks are known as comps and can include free food, beverages and hotel rooms. Some casinos even provide limo and airline tickets to big spenders.
Casinos use a wide array of tricks to draw in patrons and keep them playing. For example, the floors and walls are painted bright colors like red that are thought to stimulate the senses and encourage people to keep betting. Lights are used to create a dazzling, hypnotizing effect and the sounds of bells, clangs and dropping coins add to the excitement.
While the glitzy casino business seems to attract tourists and generate huge profits for the owners, there is a darker side to it as well. Studies show that casino money drains the local economy by diverting it from other forms of entertainment, and that the cost of treatment for compulsive gambling far exceeds any profits the casinos make.