Whether it’s hitting the slots, putting on your poker face or throwing dice at the craps table, a casino is where you can satisfy that gambling itch. The best casinos offer everything from big buffets to star names, and they’re always looking to make themselves bigger and better.
In the 1950s, mobster money started to flow into Reno and Las Vegas casinos. The gangsters had plenty of cash from drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets, and they weren’t afraid of the strip’s seamy reputation. They took sole or partial ownership of the casinos, and they controlled many of the games, influencing their outcomes with threats to casino employees. Federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a casino license at the hint of Mafia involvement eventually forced these mobsters to leave, but their money remained behind in the casinos’ coffers. Real estate investors and hotel chains saw an opportunity, and they bought out the mobs.
Modern casino security is more sophisticated than it was in the Mob era. Casinos use cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons, and they employ a variety of other surveillance techniques. For example, table games are overseen by pit bosses and managers who watch over the tables with a broader view than the dealers themselves, and they look for suspicious betting patterns that might indicate cheating. Chip tracking allows the casinos to monitor each bet made minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored to detect statistical deviations.
Casinos also use technology to ensure that their profits match up with their house edge. The house edge is the average percentage of money lost to the casino by players in a game. The more a player bets, the closer his or her odds of winning will be to the house edge. The best casinos, therefore, give players just enough hope to keep them gambling, but the house will ultimately win.
Another way casinos protect their profit margins is by giving out comps to good customers, or “comps,” as they are known in the industry. These are free goods or services that the casino gives to its most loyal customers in exchange for their gambling business. In addition to food and drinks, comps may include rooms, show tickets and even airplane rides.
Casinos have always been places where people can gamble, but the modern casino is more than just a gambling establishment; it’s an entertainment center that offers everything from high-tech surveillance systems to spectacular stage shows and dramatic scenery. While some casinos are more luxurious than others, they all have one thing in common: they’re a place where people can try their luck at winning the biggest prize of all, the jackpot. There’s just something about the idea of a jackpot that attracts people to try to cheat, steal or scam their way into a winning combination. If they don’t succeed, they can always hit the bar for some booze and food and try again tomorrow.