Once you step foot into a casino and exchange your money for chips, you’ve sold away your only advantage: staying out of the casino to begin with. Casinos can bring great shows, food, and entertainment, but statistically, they won’t bring you much more than that.
To say casino gambling is a lucrative business would be an understatement. In 2020, commercial casino gaming revenue amounted to about $30 billion, a nearly 30% decline from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic after a seven-year period of steady year-over-year growth.
Still, gambling is big business. and it’s no surprise where those profits are coming from: Tens of millions of people visit Las Vegas in a typical year, with some hoping to win more money than they came in with. There are more than 450 commercial casinos in the United States, according to the American Gaming Association’s State of the States 2021 report. These casinos generated $6.7 billion in gaming taxes for state and local governments in 2018.
Math is the universal language, and it rarely ever lies. Each game you play at a casino has a statistical probability against you winning—every single time. While this house advantage varies for each game, it ultimately helps to ensure that over time, the casino won’t lose money to gamblers.
For people who are really good at blackjack, the advantage for the casino might be only 0.5%, but certain types of slot machines might have a 35% edge over a player—and other games fall somewhere in between. The slot machine odds are often some of the worst, ranging from a one-in-5,000 to one-in-about-34-million chance of winning the top prize when using the maximum coin play.
The house advantage obviously isn’t insurmountable—people do win (sometimes substantially). However, it does mean that the more you play, the more the math works against you, and the better the chances are of you walking out of the casino with less money in your wallet than when you came in.
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