What Is a Casino?
A casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance and, sometimes, skill. Casinos are large entertainment complexes that feature hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other attractions – all designed to attract gamblers and maximize profits for the owner. While lighted fountains, musical shows and other distractions help draw visitors, casinos would not exist without the gambling games themselves: slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat, among others, provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in each year.
Despite their seamy image, casinos have become one of the world’s biggest businesses. Mob money flowed into Reno and Las Vegas from the 1950s on, but the mob’s penchant for drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets made legitimate businessmen wary of investing in casinos. Real estate developers and hotel chains with deep pockets bought out the mobsters and began running their own gambling cash cows, though the faint odor of organized crime can still be detected in some casinos.
Casinos are heavily regulated and heavily guarded to prevent cheating, theft and other crimes. High-tech surveillance systems allow security workers to watch every table, window and doorway from a room filled with banks of monitors. Casinos also employ special cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. Even the games themselves are closely supervised: betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that connects them to electronic systems that oversee the exact amount wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly for statistical deviations from expected results.