A casino is a public place where a variety of games of chance are played and where gambling is the primary activity. Typically, casinos add a host of luxuries to help attract customers, including restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. However, there have been less elaborate places that house gambling activities and still qualify as a casino.
The largest casino in the world is the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It features four restaurants, three bars, a cabaret, and meeting and banquet facilities. It also contains a 135,000-square-foot casino with 400 tables offering popular games such as baccarat and roulette. It also has 2,500 slot machines and video poker machines. The casino’s design is influenced by the Parisian architectural style, and it features certain unconventional structural features for such an establishment, including numerous windows and low ceilings.
Something about casino gambling seems to encourage people to cheat or steal in order to win. It could be the high stakes, or the fact that there are large amounts of money on the line for players. Whatever it is, it’s no wonder that casinos spend a lot of time and money on security.
Casino security starts with employees watching the games and patrons closely. Dealers are especially attentive to blatant cheating, observing betting patterns that can signal attempts to mark or switch cards and dice. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the game area and can watch for tablemates collaborating on cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems offer a high-tech eye-in-the-sky, with cameras in the ceiling that can zoom in on individual table, window or doorway to focus on suspicious behavior.
But there’s more to casino security than just surveillance. The routines of different games follow a set pattern, and security people can spot deviations from that pattern very quickly. The way the cards are shuffled and dealt, the locations of the betting spots on the table, and the expected reactions and motions of players all follow patterns that can be quickly picked up by trained personnel.
While many casino games involve some element of skill, the majority are based on pure chance and have built-in advantages for the house. Whether it’s the vigorish or rake in a table game, the edge of a slot machine or the percentages of winning and losing bets in a dice game, the house has to profit somehow, and this built-in advantage (often called the “house edge”) ensures that they will. In the long run, this is what makes a casino profitable and allows it to fund expensive hotels, fountains, towers, replicas of famous landmarks and other displays of wealth. The house always wins. Despite these inherent odds, a few lucky winners are enough to draw in the crowds and keep the cash flowing. Then the casino can turn around and invest it all back into its attractions. This is how it grows and maintains its wealth, and what gives the casinos their infamous opulence.