Underneath the glamour of flashing lights and free alcohol, casinos are built on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed patrons of their cash. Mathematically inclined minds have long tried to turn the tables by exploiting the game’s rigged rules, but a simple analysis of basic probability and gaming theory makes it clear that the best way to beat casino games is to not play them at all.
Casinos offer a variety of gambling products and amenities to attract patrons, including slot machines, table games, and live entertainment. Some casinos also host poker tournaments. Other services include spas, top-tier hotels, and restaurants.
Gambling games are often amped up with bright colors and flashing lights to make them seem more appealing, but the odds are always lousy. In blackjack, for example, the player’s skill can only reduce the house edge to about 0.5 percent. Craps draws big bettors, so casinos can lower the advantage to less than 1.4 percent. Slot machines, which are characterized by varying bands of colored shapes rolling on reels (whether physical or video), are the economic lifeblood of American casinos and generate a greater percentage of revenue than any other game.
In the twentieth century, real estate investors and hotel chains bought out many of the mobsters who ran the older casinos and began operating them independently. The new owners brought money and business skills to the enterprises and, because of federal crackdowns on mob involvement in casinos, kept them free of Mafia influence. The casinos attracted high rollers who gambled for large sums and received expensive comps, such as luxury suites and personal attention.