How Does a Casino Make Money?


A casino is a public place where people can play games of chance and win money. Often, a casino adds other entertainment elements such as stage shows and elaborate theme buildings to draw in visitors. But even without these attractions, casinos would still be able to earn billions of dollars each year from the millions of bets placed by patrons.

Historically, gambling was illegal in most states. But when Nevada legalized it, casino owners quickly realized they could attract gamblers from across the United States and from abroad. The resulting profits helped casinos become an enormous economic force in Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City.

Casinos make their money by taking a small percentage of the bets that players place, which is known as the house edge. This advantage can be lower than two percent or much higher, depending on the rules of a game and whether it has skill elements. Casinos also make money by selling cigarette and alcohol products and through comps, which are free goods or services given to “good” players, such as hotel rooms, shows or even airline tickets.

Something about the glitz, glamour and high stakes of casinos seems to inspire cheating, fraud and other crimes. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security. Security workers watch the games with cameras in the ceiling and on tables, observing patterns of betting that might indicate a patron is trying to cheat. They have a separate room filled with banks of security monitors that can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons.