The Casino Industry – More Than Just Gambling

Whether you spin the slots, try your luck on blackjack or craps or throw dice for a little excitement, a casino is the perfect place to indulge your gambling itch. But casinos also offer much more than just a whirl: food, drinks and shows can all add up to an unforgettable experience.

While lighted fountains, shopping centers and hotels can all add to the overall entertainment value of a casino, it is the games of chance that provide the billions in profits raked in by U.S. casinos each year. Slot machines, roulette, baccarat, poker and table games such as blackjack all have some element of skill, but the majority are pure chance and thus have an inherent long term advantage for the casino, known as the house edge. Players with skills that can eliminate this disadvantage are referred to as advantage players.

The casino industry is dominated by a small group of owners, and many of these are members of organized crime families. In the early days of Vegas gambling, mobster money helped finance the growth of the strip and allowed casinos to overcome their seamy reputation. In some cases, mobsters took sole or partial ownership of some casinos and used their influence to improve the odds of winning at certain games.

Casinos are now more regulated than ever, but the industry remains in flux. Some of the more sophisticated casinos now use technology to ensure fair play for all. For example, in a technique called “chip tracking,” betting chips have built in microcircuitry to communicate with electronic systems that record exactly how the chips are wagered minute-by-minute; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored on a regular basis for any statistical deviations from their expected results.

In addition to these technological measures, casinos have also implemented surveillance systems that allow them to keep tabs on their patrons. They have cameras in the ceiling that can view every table, window and doorway, and security personnel watch these from a room filled with banks of monitors. The system can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons, or to a different angle to watch for cheating or tampering.

While many casinos have become more relaxed about their patrons, they still reward frequent and large spenders with free goods and services. These may include hotel rooms, dinners and tickets to shows, but also limo service and airline tickets. A person who is deemed to be a good player will often receive comps based on the amount of money they wager or the number of hours spent playing a game. Ask a casino employee for details on how to get your comps, but be sure to tip them well if they help you. They may be breaking casino policy if they share this information without a gratuity. A tip of at least five percent is appropriate.