A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. While a few casinos incorporate musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels to draw in customers, the majority of a casino’s entertainment — and profits for its owner – comes from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions of dollars in profit that casinos rake in every year. A casino may also be known as a gaming hall, gaming room or poker room.
Despite their appearance of a frenzied atmosphere, casinos are designed for maximum security and a high level of service. Casino patrons are usually required to wear identification at all times, and casino employees constantly patrol the floor to ensure that players do not cheat or steal from one another. Several forms of electronic monitoring and video surveillance are used to prevent such activities. Casino employees can also detect unusual betting patterns or the switching of cards or dice, as well as unauthorized access to casino areas.
While some gamblers will win money, most will lose it. Because of this, the house always has a mathematical expectancy of winning, which is called the “house edge.” This advantage is built into each game offered. The house’s expected net profit is the sum of all of its bets made over time, minus the amount of money lost by individual gamblers. The average casino visitor will play a slot machine for 9 minutes and a table game for 42 minutes.
Since ancient times, people have sought to control the outcome of a gamble by using skills or luck, depending on the game and its rules. Today, many casinos combine both elements in their gaming floors and have a range of betting options from low to high stakes. Some casinos even offer a live poker tournament, which has attracted world-class players.
Casinos require enormous amounts of cash to operate, and a large percentage of that must be kept secure. Security starts on the casino floor, where security staff monitors all patrons, watching for blatant cheating like palming and marking cards or changing dice. Other security measures include casino floor cameras that record all actions, electronic chips that have built-in microcircuitry for monitoring, and roulette wheels that are monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from their expected values.
In the past, organized crime gangs controlled many casinos. Mafia money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, and mobster owners often took sole or partial ownership of casinos. However, as casinos became more popular and legitimate businessmen saw the potential for enormous profits, they began to buy out mobsters. Currently, mob involvement in casinos is rare. The deep pockets of real estate investors and hotel chains make it nearly impossible for the mob to control casino operations. Casinos are also subject to frequent federal crackdowns and can lose their licenses at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement. This has forced mobster families to turn to other ventures, such as drug dealing and extortion, to make their money.