Casino, Martin Scorsese’s epic story of Vegas, is a fascinating look at the history of a city that thrived in corruption and reinvented itself over and over again. It’s also a valuable reminder of the dangers of gambling addiction.

Beneath the flashing lights and free drinks, casinos are built on a bedrock of mathematics that is designed to slowly bleed patrons of their cash. The house edge, or mathematical expectancy of winning, for every game is predetermined and can’t be overcome. It’s why casinos have so many incentives for their biggest bettors. They offer them free spectacular entertainment, luxury accommodations and transportation, reduced-fare hotel rooms, and other inducements.

A casino’s house edge is determined by its rules, the number of cards dealt, and the amount of money wagered by players. In games with a skill element, the house advantage can be minimized by following a set of optimal plays. For example, basic strategy for blackjack, baccarat and roulette involves betting against the dealer.

Marketers often focus on demographics when targeting potential customers, but these are just one piece of the puzzle. They also need to consider the reasons behind audience behavior, such as events and group business. This is why it’s important to invest in a diverse offering of amenities, including top-notch hotels and spas, flexible event spaces, and delicious restaurants. Unlike older generations, Millennials and Gen Z are much more likely to spend their time in these non-gaming areas.