From the glittering lights of Las Vegas to pai gow tables in New York’s Chinatown, casinos have long been places where people can gamble and play games of chance. Though casino owners often add a variety of other luxuries—such as restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery—it’s the gambling that keeps most people coming back.
While a few gamblers enjoy losing money, most gamblers come to a casino to have fun and win some of their own cash. That’s why the casino industry works so hard to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. This includes offering perks that encourage gamblers to spend more and to stay longer than they otherwise would, such as free hotel rooms, meals or show tickets. These are known as “comps.” Casinos also offer perks to big-spenders—or “good players,” as they’re sometimes called—that can include limo service and airline tickets.
The odds of any game of chance are mathematically determined, so the house always has an advantage over the players. This advantage, or house edge, is expressed as a percentage of total bets. In most American casinos, the advantage is 1.4 percent or less; some games—such as roulette and craps—have smaller house edges than others. Despite the large house edge, slot machines are the economic mainstay of many American casinos because of their high volume and fast payouts.