The Casino Industry
A casino is a gambling establishment where people can place wagers on various games of chance. These games include slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and keno. Some casinos also offer live entertainment, such as musical shows and sports events. In addition, some casinos are combined with hotels and resorts, restaurants, retail shops and cruise ships.
The casino industry generates billions of dollars in profits each year. Although music, lighted fountains and even a themed hotel help attract visitors, it is the games of chance that generate the majority of casino income.
Gambling likely existed long before recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones found in archaeological sites. But the casino as an organized collection of games under one roof did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered in private clubs known as ridotti to gamble and socialize. Although they technically broke the law, the aristocrats were not bothered by the authorities.
Today, casino facilities often include multiple gaming rooms with different types of games. The most common are card games, dice games and slot machines. Some casinos specialize in a particular game, such as poker or baccarat, while others offer a variety of games to attract patrons. The gaming floors are usually decorated with bright and sometimes gaudy colors, including red, which is believed to stimulate the senses and encourage players to keep betting.
Security is a major concern of casino owners. Cameras monitor the activities of patrons and employees to detect cheating or other irregularities. Dealers are trained to spot blatantly obvious cheating techniques, such as palming or marking cards, and pit bosses supervise table games with a broader view to check for unusual betting patterns. Casinos use a range of technology to help enforce these rules, including computerized systems that track the exact amount of money placed on each game minute by minute and alert personnel when a pattern deviates from expectations.
In addition to enforcing game rules, casino managers must also persuade gamblers to spend money. Besides enticing players with food and beverage specials, casinos advertise their locations and provide freebies such as show tickets or discounted travel packages to lure people from other cities. In the United States, 51 million people-a quarter of all adults over 21-visited a casino in 2002.
While casino profits may seem enticing, the industry has a darker side. Studies have shown that compulsive gamblers drain casinos of a significant portion of their revenue. Moreover, casinos are not particularly beneficial to local economies. Rather than bringing in tourists, the vast majority of casino revenue comes from local residents. As a result, casinos shift spending away from other forms of entertainment and often cause economic problems in the communities they serve. Consequently, some communities have banned gambling. In other cases, they have taken steps to regulate and tax it. However, most of the world’s largest and most profitable casinos operate in Las Vegas, which is not subject to strict regulations.