A casino, in its basic form, is a place where gambling games are played. While modern casinos often add entertainment, shopping centers, restaurants and deluxe hotels to the mix, the fact remains that they exist primarily to provide chances for patrons to gamble. Slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, and other games of chance make up the bulk of the billions in profits that casinos rake in each year.
Unlike lotteries or internet gambling, casino gambling is a social activity. Players are either interacting with other people, as in poker and other table games or they are sitting around slots and other machines, shouting encouragement or yelling at the computer screen to try and get the machine to pay out. Casinos are designed around noise and excitement, and the lighting is very bright to create a cheery atmosphere. Alcoholic drinks are freely available to players, and some even offer complimentary snacks.
Most casinos are owned by governmental agencies or private businesses, but there are some that are operated by crime organizations. The mafia, in particular, has long had a presence in Nevada casinos. In the early 1950s, mobster money helped to finance many of the newer properties that appeared in Las Vegas and Reno, giving them a glamorous, but illegal, image. Mafia figures lent their money, took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and tried to control the action by giving or withholding favors to certain players.
In the 1980s and ’90s, some states amended their antigambling laws to allow for casinos. They also began to open on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to state laws. As more and more Americans began to legally gamble, the number of casinos grew, as did the revenue they raked in.
Today, the average casino is huge and full of dazzling sights, sound and smells. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is one of the most recognizable casino locations in the world, and it’s a favorite setting for the hit movie Ocean’s 11. It boasts a huge variety of casino games, from classic table games to the hottest new video slot machines with themes like Ancient Rome and space.
Casinos are usually protected by a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department that operates the gaming floor’s closed circuit television system. The specialized surveillance staff watches for patterns in player behavior and reactions, which help them spot potentially suspicious or illegal activities. The security forces patrol the floors and respond to calls for assistance or reports of possible criminal activity. They work closely with the surveillance officers, whose job is to watch for any unusual patterns in game play or betting activity. If an unauthorized person enters the casino, they quickly identify and apprehend him or her. This is an effective system, and it helps keep casinos safe for their guests. It has also helped reduce the amount of crime committed within casino walls. Casinos that are safe for their guests also tend to be safer for all residents of the area.