A casino (American English) or a gambling house (British English) is an establishment offering various forms of gambling. Casinos are usually combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and entertainment venues. Gambling is an activity in which customers place bets on games of chance or skill and are paid according to the results of those bets. The game of gambling has its roots in ancient times and is found worldwide.
Most casinos make money by taking a percentage of bets made by patrons or charging them an hourly fee to play table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette. This profit is known as the house edge or vig. The percentage taken by the casino varies from game to game, but is usually lower than two percent. Casinos may also make money by giving players complimentary items or comps, and by selling them food, drinks and hotel rooms.
Casinos persuade gamblers to spend money by creating a stimulating, exciting atmosphere. They use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that create a cheering effect, as well as noise and light. Red is a popular color because it makes people lose track of time. Most casinos do not display clocks, as they want patrons to stay longer.
In the 1950s, mobster money helped launch a massive expansion of Las Vegas casinos. Later, legitimate businessmen with deep pockets bought out the mobsters and began running their own establishments. With federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gambling license at any hint of mob involvement, mafia influence in casinos faded.