What Is a Casino?
A casino is a public place that offers a variety of games of chance for money. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shops help draw visitors, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in gambling profits generated each year by slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other table games. Each of these games has a built in statistical advantage for the house, and this small profit is what generates the huge amount of revenue casinos bring in.
Casinos often feature Far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan, as well as European favorites like baccarat. They also offer American classics such as poker, blackjack and roulette, and some casinos specialize in a particular game or region. For example, the MGM Grand features more than 130 slot machines and a sports betting section with 60 large plasma TVs that accept bets on American football, boxing and other sports.
As the gambling business grew, organized crime gangsters financed casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. But federal crackdowns on mob-linked casinos and the threat of losing a gambling license at even the smallest hint of gang involvement forced legitimate businessmen to take over. Today, hotel chains and real estate investors with deep pockets own and operate many casinos.
Most casinos have elaborate security systems that can detect cheating, but there’s a more subtle side to their surveillance, as well. For instance, the routines of the players in a casino follow certain patterns that make it easier for security personnel to spot things that don’t look right.