A casino is an entertainment business that offers games of chance for money. Its profits come from the house edge, the built-in advantage that casinos have over their customers. The house edge is not just a mathematical calculation: It also reflects the physics of casino games, the expectations of players and the whims of fate. Despite its seemingly escapist appeal, gambling is an extremely competitive business. Casinos compete with each other, non-gambling resorts, on-line gaming and private gambling, as well as a illegal gambling market that is much larger than the legal one.

The casinos that make it in this highly competitive industry are those that are able to maximize their profits by managing expenses and maximizing revenue. They use technology to monitor players’ actions, prevent cheating and to keep the tables balanced. Elaborate systems monitor every table, coin drop, card deal, dice roll and other detail of each game to discover any anomaly. A high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” enables security personnel to watch the entire casino at once and adjust the cameras to focus on suspicious patrons.

Casinos are also able to generate substantial income through high-volume, low-speed, high-margin machines that pay out small sums at the touch of a button. In addition, they rely on the ‘rake’ of poker, which is the casino’s cut of each pot of money won by players. But compulsive gamblers are a major drain on casinos’ profits: They spend disproportionately more than they win, and the loss of productivity caused by problem gambling more than offsets any economic benefits the casino may bring to its community.