A casino is a place where people gamble. The term casino can refer to a building that houses gambling activities, or it may mean a specific game played in the place. There have been a number of elaborate places that have housed gambling activities, but the most famous and luxurious casinos are the ones where the stakes are highest. In these decadent temples of temptation, decked out with opulent furnishings and overflowing bars, gambling is elevated to an art form.
Most casinos have games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker. In addition, some have bingo halls, and a few have sports books. These days, some casinos offer video poker and other electronic games as well. Regardless of the type of casino, it is essential that it have sufficient security to keep the patrons safe from cheaters and thieves.
Casinos are generally very profitable establishments. Every game has a mathematical expectancy of winning, and it is rare for a casino to lose money on a single day. The vast majority of casinos’ profits come from high rollers, who make up about 25 percent of the total clientele. To attract these bettors, casinos often offer them free spectacular entertainment and luxury living quarters. Casinos also gain profit from lesser bettors by offering them reduced-fare transportation, free food and drink while gambling, and limo service and airline tickets if they spend enough money.
In the 1950s and 1960s, organized crime mobster money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas with almost unceasing force. The mobster money helped casinos build large hotel rooms, add slot machines and table games, and renovate their buildings. It also allowed casinos to increase staffs and expand their surveillance systems. But the mobsters were never content with mere bankrolling; they took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and tampered with results to their own advantage. In fact, many mobster-controlled casinos still exist today, although federal crackdowns and the possibility of losing a license at even the faintest hint of mafia involvement have kept them from becoming the cash cows that they once were.
Elaborate security systems include cameras that give a high-tech eye-in-the-sky view of the entire floor. These cameras are monitored from a room filled with banks of screens by security personnel, who can zoom in on suspicious patrons. Similarly, chip tracking technology allows the casinos to see exactly how much a player bets minute by minute, so they can quickly discover any statistical anomalies. Something about gambling just seems to encourage people to try to cheat or steal their way into a jackpot. That’s why casinos devote a lot of time, effort and money to security. Casinos also have a reputation for being deceptive, which hasn’t done much to help their public image. Many localities that have casinos complain that they shift spending away from other forms of entertainment and into the casinos’ coffers. Some even argue that the cost of treating problem gambling addicts and the lost productivity caused by their addictions more than offset any economic gains the casinos bring in.