The casino industry reaps billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that own and operate them. Casinos feature games of chance and, in some cases, skill, like craps, roulette, baccarat, blackjack and video poker. The gambling industry also employs thousands of people and includes the businesses that sell food, drink and supplies to gamblers. Casinos can be huge resorts or small card rooms; they can be found in cities, on cruise ships, at racetracks and even in truck stops.
A successful casino has a built-in advantage that ensures it will win in the long run: the house edge, a mathematically determined profit margin. The house edge is more prominent in games that require skill, such as poker and blackjack, than in pure chance-based games such as slots or roulette. The house’s edge is also more pronounced in games that involve a large number of players.
To counteract the house edge, casinos offer a variety of promotional activities, free goods and services to “good” players. These perks are known as comps. They are typically awarded for large amounts of money wagered or hours spent playing. Comps include free hotel stays, dinners, show tickets, limo service and airline tickets.
The perks are intended to offset the high cost of running a casino and attract new customers. But some critics argue that the casino industry actually drains local economies by taking spending from other forms of entertainment, and that the social costs of gambling addiction more than offset any economic benefits.