How Does a Casino Make Money?


A casino is a gambling establishment. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes help lure patrons to casinos, the billions in profits generated each year by slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette and other table games are what keep them alive.

In Nevada, where most of the country’s casinos are located, a casino is required to have a certain percentage of its gross gaming revenue come from games of chance. To ensure this, the state’s regulatory body monitors the games and imposes a minimum percentage that must be wagered on games such as roulette, baccarat and blackjack. These games have built in statistical advantages for the casino that, over time, can amount to a significant profit margin.

Some games have no such advantage and, for these, a casino earns its money by taking a commission from the total bets placed on a game. This is called the vig or rake. Table games such as baccarat and craps generally take a vig of around two percent of the bettors’ total bets. Video poker and slot machines, which do not require an operator to be present, pay out according to a random number generator.

Like any business that deals in large amounts of money, a casino is vulnerable to attempts to cheat and steal. To counter this, casinos employ a variety of security measures. These range from cameras to a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” system that allows security personnel to view the entire casino at once, adjusting their focus on suspicious patrons.