The Dark Side of the Casino


A casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of its entertainment (and profits) coming from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games provide the billions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos every year. Casinos are also a major source of revenue for some Native American tribes. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help lure visitors, but the main draw remains the games of chance.

The casino is a booming business, with millions of people visiting the United States’ and abroad’s most popular gaming establishments each year. Some are opulent, elegant palaces that have hosted royalty and aristocracy; others are sleek and modern. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is perhaps the most famous, but there are many others. The casino business has a dark side, as well. Compulsive gamblers can wreak havoc with their finances, their families and even their own lives.

Casinos make money by accepting bets on games of chance and then paying out winnings according to established rules. In the case of poker, for example, each game has a mathematical expectancy, and it is rare that any one player will win more than they lose. Because of this, casinos can afford to offer big bettors extravagant inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment and luxurious living quarters. Even smaller bettors can be offered reduced-fare transportation and free drinks and cigarettes while they are gambling.

Besides gambling, casinos also offer restaurants and bars, shops, spas and museums. The glitz and glamour of casinos has made them a hot destination for celebrities and the affluent, with some offering a high-end shopping experience to their patrons. Some of the world’s most famous casinos include Monte-Carlo in Monaco, Casino Lisboa in Lisbon and the opulent Hotel Baden-Baden in Germany.

Because of the large amount of currency that passes through them, casinos are susceptible to theft and fraud. Both patrons and staff may attempt to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time and money on security. Security cameras are a standard feature, but there are other methods of monitoring and detecting suspicious behavior.

Casinos are generally located in areas that have legalized gambling, such as Nevada, Atlantic City and New Jersey, or on reservations, where Native Americans have their own casinos. Most American casinos are run by private corporations, though some are operated by state governments or local municipalities. In some cases, a company owns several casinos in the same region. The largest casinos are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Each region has its own character and attracts different types of players.