Casinos – The Art of Gambling


In these decadent temples of temptation, decked out with opulent furnishings and overflowing bars, gambling is elevated to an art form.

During the 20th century casinos began appearing throughout Europe as the legalization of gambling increased. In the United States, casinos first appeared on American Indian reservations, which were exempt from state antigambling laws. During the 1980s, however, many American states amended their laws to permit casinos, and today there are numerous casinos throughout the world.

Casinos earn money by imposing a small advantage on each bet placed. This may be only a couple of percent, but when multiplied by millions of bets, it adds up. In addition to this “vig” or rake, the casinos make money from the various games that they offer. These games vary in popularity and profitability; for example, roulette appeals to big bettors but has a lower house edge than craps. Slot machines and video poker are the economic mainstays of most American casinos, generating revenue from high volumes of play at low stakes.

Despite their enormous profits, casinos are not without controversy. Some critics argue that they detract from local entertainment opportunities, and that the cost of treating compulsive gamblers offsets any economic benefits they may bring. Others point to the influence of organized crime on many casino owners, arguing that the mob is able to use its money and power to control casinos and manipulate the outcome of gambling contests. In recent years, real estate investors and hotel chains have bought out many of the major casino owners, and are removing mob ties.