A casino is a public place where games of chance can be played. Although the term casino has become synonymous with a range of luxuries and extras, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, the essence of a casino is gambling.
A modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park for adults, with most of the entertainment (and profits for the owner) coming from slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other table games. Other casino games include poker, video poker and keno.
Most casinos are designed with the idea of keeping people inside as long as possible and gambling as often as possible. As a result, they use lots of bright colors and gaudy designs. Many have really garish carpeting, which is by design; studies show that this color helps people stay alert and play longer. Moreover, most casinos do not have clocks on the walls, which is also by design; it is thought that seeing a clock might distract players from gambling.
In order to maximize profits, casinos focus on getting people to gamble as much as possible. This is why they offer a wide range of comps, or complimentary items, to their players. In the 1970s, Las Vegas casinos were famous for offering discounted travel packages and free show tickets to attract big spenders. Casinos today are a bit more selective, but they still reward high rollers with free rooms, meals and transportation.
Because of the large amounts of money that are handled within a casino, there is always the potential for cheating and theft by both patrons and employees. This is why casinos employ security measures such as cameras to monitor the activity in the gaming areas. Often, these cameras are placed in places that would be difficult to reach by thieves, such as the ceilings.
Another important aspect of casino security is the ability to keep accurate records. To do this, the casino hires mathematicians and computer programmers to calculate the house edge and variance of each game. By having these figures, the casino knows how much money it can expect to lose and how much cash reserves it needs to have on hand to cover potential losses.
As the casino industry has grown, so too have the opportunities for organized crime to become involved with it. While legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved with the tainted image of gambling, mafia families saw an opportunity to invest their money in Las Vegas and other casino towns. Often, mobster money would help finance construction projects, buy and sell chips and even become partial owners of some casinos. The mobsters would often take over management and even influence the outcomes of certain games. This practice is no longer common, but there are still some mob-owned casinos in operation.