The Casino Advantage

From the glitz of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York’s Chinatown, casinos offer an array of games of chance and skill. They earn millions from customers and build fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks. However, every casino game has a built in advantage for the house (lower than two percent) that keeps the house profitable over time, even with millions of bets placed by players. This edge is known as the house edge or the vigorish and also includes commissions taken by dealers in games of skill like poker, where players compete against each other.

While many people dream of winning the big jackpot, the odds are against you. The math simply doesn’t work in your favor, and it’s usually better to walk away with less money than you came in with. It’s no wonder that casinos focus on keeping customers happy with a wide variety of entertainment options, top-notch hotels and restaurants and other perks.

The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany first attracted royalty and European aristocracy 150 years ago with its opulent casinos, which feature red-and-gold poker rooms and table games. Now it attracts a broader crowd, including Hollywood celebrities and wealthy businesspeople. But critics say that a casino’s revenue shifts spending from other local entertainment and that the costs of treating gambling addictions cancel out any economic gains. In fact, research shows that a casino can actually decrease the value of nearby homes and businesses.