A casino is a gambling establishment where people can gamble on games of chance and skill. These places vary in size, from massive resorts to small card rooms. Successful casinos generate billions in profits each year for the companies, investors, and Native American tribes that operate them. They also rake in millions of dollars in taxes and other fees from players. In addition, many states have legalized casino-type game machines in bars, restaurants, and other locations.
A small percentage of casino patrons are addicted to gambling. They are referred to as compulsive gamblers and generate a large portion of casino profits. However, they tend to shift spending away from other types of local entertainment and often have negative economic impacts on a community. Moreover, the cost of treating problem gambling and the loss of productivity among workers who are compelled to gamble often reversal any economic gains from casino gambling.
In the United States, the most popular casino destination is Las Vegas. However, there are many other gambling destinations throughout the country, including Atlantic City and New Jersey, and Native American casinos in Minnesota and other states. Many of these casinos offer a variety of gaming options, such as table games and slot machines. Some even have restaurants and theaters.
The average casino patron is a forty-six-year-old female who lives in a household with above-average income. This demographic makes up 23% of all casino gamblers, according to a 2005 survey conducted by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS. Those with below-average incomes make up the remaining 67%.
Casinos have long been a magnet for organized crime figures. They provide opportunities for large bets and high payouts, and they are located in towns with ready access to transportation. During the 1960s, mobster money flowed steadily into Reno and Las Vegas, financing casino expansion and renovation. Some mobsters became involved in the business personally and took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. They used their criminal clout to influence the outcome of some games and threatened casino employees with violence.
As casinos have become more sophisticated in the twenty-first century, they have shifted their focus to higher-stakes games played by wealthy individuals and corporate entities. These games are often held in special rooms, separate from the main floor, where the stakes can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. These high rollers are rewarded for their large spending with “comps” such as free hotel rooms, dinners, show tickets, and airline or limo service.
Because of the high amounts of money handled in a casino, cheating and stealing are common problems. Casinos have developed a number of security measures to prevent these activities. For example, cameras located throughout the facility monitor everything that happens on the casino floor. In addition, some casinos have high-tech surveillance systems that create a virtual “eye-in-the-sky” for security personnel to watch from a control room. These systems can be adjusted to zoom in on suspicious patrons and track their movements.