The Casino Business – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Musical shows, lighted fountains, expensive hotels and elaborate themes all help draw in the crowds, but the casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits generated by the gambling machines, blackjack, poker, craps and other games. This article will take a look at how casinos make money, the history of casino games and some of the dark secrets of this lucrative business.

Gambling machines and table games generate the lion’s share of casino profits. But it is the high rollers who rake in the biggest bucks. These people typically bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time, and receive “comps” (free goods and services) worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. These perks can include free hotel rooms, fine dining, tickets to shows and limo service and airline tickets. Comps are based on the amount of time patrons spend gambling and the stakes they bet.

The average casino customer is a middle-aged, female householder with above-average income. In 2008, 24% of Americans had visited a casino in the previous year. The number is likely higher today.

Something about the environment of casino gambling seems to encourage cheating, stealing and scamming. Casino security staff must work hard to deter this. Security people pay special attention to the patterns of game play, such as how dealers shuffle and deal cards or where players place their bets on a table. If a player does anything out of the ordinary, security people are quick to spot it.

There are three general categories of casino games: gaming machines, table games and random number games. The first two types of games are played by a single player at a time and do not require the involvement of casino employees. The latter two are manned by casino employees known as croupiers or dealers. Most of the time, these workers are not actually dealing or shuffling cards themselves but relying on the computer program or other equipment to do the work for them.

As the popularity of casino gambling grew in the United States, owners realized that they needed to offer other amenities in addition to games of chance to lure customers. This is how the Las Vegas Strip came to be, with its bright lights, flashy shops and luxurious hotels. The casinos also became popular with organized crime figures, who used the money from their drug trafficking, extortion and other illegal rackets to bankroll the gambling establishments.

Modern casinos employ a variety of technological devices to ensure that all patrons are treated fairly. For example, a casino’s video cameras monitor every bet placed. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored to see if they are rotating unevenly; and chips with built-in microcircuitry allow casinos to keep track of the amount each person is betting minute by minute. Casinos also use computers to analyze game results and predict the next big winner.

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