The casino industry is a huge business. In 2002 alone, 51 million Americans visited casinos – roughly one quarter of the nation’s population over 21 – and the number is growing. From the glamorous lights of Las Vegas to illegal pai gow parlors in New York City, casinos attract people from all walks of life. But there is one thing that everyone who visits a casino knows: the house always wins.
Gambling may predate the written word, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites, but the casino as we know it developed in the 16th century as a place where patrons could find all types of gambling activities under one roof. Until then, gamblers had to visit separate establishments for each of their favorite games.
In order to guarantee their own profits, casino owners have built in a small mathematical advantage into every game offered. While this edge is usually less than two percent, it can add up over time and is what gives a casino its name: the house always wins.
In addition to the built-in house advantage, casino managers employ a variety of other methods to make sure they keep their customers spending money. These techniques are called comps, and they are given to good players who spend a lot of time at the table or slot machines. Free hotel rooms, buffet meals, show tickets and limo service are all commonly available to comped players.