The most popular casinos around the world are huge, with thousands of slot machines and tables, and even restaurants and bars. They are designed to be a one-stop destination for gambling, entertainment and luxury. Some are built in spectacular locations, such as the Wynn and Venetian resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Others are themed, such as the Hippodrome in London or the City of Dreams on Macau. Still others are based in unique cities, such as Baden-Baden or the Palace of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Despite the elaborate hotels, fountains and replicas of landmarks, casinos make money mostly by offering games of chance. While musical shows and shopping centers help draw in the crowds, most of the billions in profits raked in by casinos come from the games themselves: blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and keno.
While some people do win big, the average casino loses money. The reason is simple: every casino game has a built in advantage for the house. It can be only a few percent, but it adds up over millions of individual bets. This advantage is called the vig or rake, and it can cover the cost of the hotel, restaurant and other amenities.
Casinos compete not only with each other, but with non-gambling resorts, on-line gaming and a massive illegal gambling business that is much larger than the legal casinos. The industry is incredibly competitive, and it can be tough for a new place to break into the market.