The Casino Industry


A casino is an entertainment venue, a place where people can enjoy games of chance and sometimes skill. It is associated with glitz and glamour, but it is also infamous for its pitfalls. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and extravagant hotels help draw crowds, casinos are built on the billions of dollars in gambling profits raked in every year by games such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and video poker.

Casinos make money by imposing an advantage on patrons that is typically greater than the game’s mathematical expectation. This is known as the house edge and can be very small (less than two percent) or large, depending on how each individual casino sets its gaming rules and payout limits for different types of games. The house edge for gambling is usually higher for table games and lower for video poker and slots, whose pay tables are more complex.

The casino industry has been heavily influenced by organized crime, particularly in the era when Nevada’s Las Vegas was the world’s most popular gambling destination. Mob funds gave casinos the necessary capital to expand and upgrade their facilities. In exchange for their financial backing, mafia members often took sole or partial ownership of the casinos and used their influence to manipulate games and rig results.

Modern casinos use technology to monitor their operations and keep players safe. Some examples include “chip tracking,” which uses betting chips with microcircuitry to allow casinos to oversee exactly how much is being wagered minute by minute, and electronically monitored roulette wheels that are regularly examined for statistical deviations from expected results. In addition, casinos now routinely use video cameras to monitor their floors and to record player activity for security purposes.

While some casinos have no legal age restrictions, most require people to be at least 21 to gamble or enter the casino building. In some states, the legal gambling age varies by product. For example, sports betting has a minimum age of 18 while pari-mutuel wagering has a minimum age of 18.

Due to the high amounts of money involved in casino gambling, both employees and patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal. This is why most casinos have extensive security measures. In addition to a physical security force, most casinos have a specialized surveillance department that operates closed circuit television systems. These departments work together to ensure the safety of both staff and patrons. The cameras are designed to monitor all areas of the casino and to respond immediately to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity. In many cases, these departments have been quite successful in preventing crime. They are often assisted by local law enforcement agencies. In the rare instance when crimes do occur, patrons are encouraged to notify the casino’s security guards. The security guards are then responsible for investigating and resolving the incident. They may also request that the perpetrator be banned from their premises.