A Casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance. Some casinos add luxuries like restaurants, theaters and stage shows to attract gamblers, while others focus on their gambling activities and have a less elaborate facility. Regardless of the added attractions, casinos must ensure that gamblers are not cheated or otherwise defrauded. They accomplish this with a combination of sophisticated security measures and well-trained personnel.
In the United States casinos are regulated and licensed by state governments and are usually found in towns with large populations. Some casinos are also located on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. Since 1978, when Atlantic City became the first legal casino in the country, many other cities and states have passed or amended their laws to permit casinos. Most casino gambling takes place in the United States, although a few casinos are located in Europe and a few have opened in Asia.
While casinos offer a wide variety of games, slot machines generate the greatest proportion of their incomes. These games require a small investment and involve no skill or strategy; players simply insert money, pull a handle or push a button and watch the reels spin. The varying bands of colored shapes that roll past are controlled by on-board computer chips; if the right pattern appears, the player wins a predetermined amount of money. Casinos use video cameras and other technology to monitor and control the games.
Card games are the second largest source of casino revenue, with poker and blackjack making up most of this money. Casinos profit from these games by taking a portion of the pot or charging a flat hourly fee to patrons. Some casinos also offer far eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow.
Despite their seamy associations with organized crime, casinos remain popular with legitimate businessmen and investors. Casino owners have the deep pockets to afford expensive security measures and the freedom to entice gamblers with free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and airline tickets. In addition, federal crackdowns on mob involvement in casinos make it difficult for criminals to open their own gambling houses.
Something about the thrill of gambling seems to encourage people to cheat, steal and lie in order to win. This is why casinos devote a great deal of time, effort and money to security. The routines and patterns of casino games create a familiar atmosphere and make it easy for security staff to spot unusual behavior. Casinos also employ sophisticated monitoring systems, such as an “eye-in-the-sky” system with cameras that track every table and change of window or doorway. These can be adjusted to concentrate on suspicious patrons by security workers in a room filled with banks of computer monitors.