A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and, in some cases, skill. It is a place where players are surrounded by noise, light, and excitement, where winning and losing is almost as likely as breathing. Some casinos are beautiful, historic buildings that ooze elegance and class; others are modern glass-and-steel temples of self-indulgence.
During most of American history, gambling was illegal in most states. However, this did not stop casino-like operations from springing up, often with the full complicity of local law enforcement authorities. Many were run by organized crime figures, who had ample cash from drug dealing and extortion to risk it all on the games in hopes of turning a profit. The mob also provided the money to build and renovate some of the largest casinos, especially in Las Vegas.
Today’s casinos focus on high rollers, who spend huge sums of money and generate much of a casino’s profits. They are given free hotel rooms and food, tickets to shows, and even limo service and airline tickets if their play is big enough. This practice is called “comping.” It gives casinos a competitive edge over other gambling establishments, which can’t afford to give away such lavish gifts.
Gambling is not the only thing that draws people to casinos; they also feature restaurants, bars, non-gambling games, spas, museums and theaters. They are places where people can go to relax and escape from the pressures of daily life, if only for a few hours.
A casino is a complex organization that requires an immense amount of personnel to operate properly. Most casinos have a security force that patrols the floor and responds to calls for assistance or reports of suspicious activity. There is also a specialized department that operates the casino’s closed circuit television system. These departments work closely together and have been able to prevent serious incidents. Because large amounts of money are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal. Fortunately, most such attempts are unsuccessful, as the casino’s security forces work very hard to keep their eyes on everyone at all times.