The word casino may refer to a gambling establishment, or it could mean any type of building in which gambling is permitted. The term has also been used to describe a business that promotes and organizes such activities, as well as the people who conduct them. In general, casinos are places of entertainment where a wide variety of games of chance are offered. They often offer food and drinks, and are frequently decorated in a flashy, exciting fashion.
Casinos make money by accepting bets from patrons within certain limits and then paying out winnings. Every game has a built in statistical advantage for the casino that can be as small as two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by thousands of gamblers. The result is a virtual assurance of gross profit. Because of this, casino gambling is a very lucrative business for the owners.
As legal gambling expanded, casino owners realized that they needed a larger clientele to make money. Initially, they targeted vacationers from states where gambling was legal. Eventually they targeted people who had plenty of time and available cash. These are the types of people who still make up the bulk of the clientele for the largest casino chains.
In the early days of gambling, many casinos were run by mobster families and other organized crime groups. However, federal crackdowns on organized crime and the threat of losing a gaming license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement meant that these criminals were forced out of the business by legitimate investors with deep pockets.