Whether it’s a whirl on the roulette wheel, a stab at a blackjack table or a roll of the dice on a craps game, casinos offer the chance to scratch that gambling itch. They also offer plenty of food, drinks and entertainment for those not looking to gamble. But just how do casinos make their money? This article looks at the history of casinos, the games they offer and how they’re run.
In the beginning, many of the world’s casino owners were organized crime figures with lots of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and other illegal rackets. They saw a big opportunity in the new Nevada legal gambling business and moved to Reno and Las Vegas, where casinos had already opened. The mob money flowed steadily, but mobster involvement also raised concerns over the seamy image of casino gaming. Legitimate businesses with deep pockets like hotel chains and real estate investors began to take over casino operations, buying out the mafia players.
Modern casinos are often designed with the look of luxury. The Bellagio in Las Vegas, for example, is famous for its elegant poker rooms and high-limit blackjack tables that host World Poker Tour events. Its opulent resort includes an eight-acre lake, exclusive fashion stores and the infamous dancing fountains. Asian casinos feature traditional Far Eastern games such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai-gow.
Casinos must be safe places, and that requires a lot of security. Some casinos have high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance systems that can watch every table, window and doorway from a control room. Others rely on less intrusive methods, such as security cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons.