A casino is an establishment where people can play games of chance for money. It may be a small, cozy place with a few slot machines or an enormous, spectacular facility filled with table games like blackjack, craps and roulette. A casino may be integrated with a hotel or a tourist attraction and it usually has security personnel to keep the patrons safe. Despite the millions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos, many people are addicted to gambling and some gamblers lose more than they win.
During the 1970s Las Vegas casinos became famous for offering free buffet meals, show tickets and other perks to encourage people to visit and gamble more. This strategy worked well, and other cities and states began opening their own casinos to capitalize on this new source of tourism revenue.
Modern casinos often feature restaurants, shops and other entertainment amenities to appeal to a broader range of potential customers. They can also have elaborate surveillance systems that allow security workers to monitor every table, window and doorway from a central control room. These sophisticated “eyes-in-the-sky” systems are capable of being adjusted to zero in on specific suspicious patrons or to capture a specific moment to study for evidence of cheating, collusion and other questionable activities.
In addition to surveillance equipment, a casino has employees who patrol the floor to make sure that all players are following the rules. There are also electronic monitoring devices that track the movement of bets minute by minute and can alert the casino to any discrepancy. There are even fully automated casino games, such as slot machines, where the pay-outs are determined by computer chips in the machines.
As the popularity of casinos grew, organized crime figures saw an opportunity to finance them with their own money from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets. Mafia members provided the bankroll for a number of casinos in Nevada and California, but they wanted more than just the money. They took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and tried to influence the outcomes of games by intimidation, violence and other means. Federal crackdowns on mob involvement in casinos and the threat of losing a gambling license at even the slightest whiff of mafia involvement helped to keep legitimate businessmen away from this seamy industry.
Although casinos provide a wide variety of luxuries to lure customers, they would not exist without games of chance. Slot machines, poker, keno, roulette, craps and other traditional games of chance are the basis for the billions in profits that casinos make each year. The casino environment is designed to be noisy and exciting, with lighted fountains, dramatic scenery and musical shows. The games of chance themselves are the primary draw for most of the guests. This article discusses how casinos persuade their customers to gamble, what makes the games of chance so attractive and some of the dark sides to the casino business.