The Casino Business

A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Some casinos are massive resorts, like the Bellagio in Las Vegas, while others are smaller card rooms. Casino gambling earns billions of dollars each year for owners, investors, companies and Native American tribes, as well as state and local governments.

While elaborate themes, hotels, shopping centers and restaurants draw in customers, the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are among the most popular casino games. Some casinos feature a variety of other activities, including musical shows and celebrity appearances.

For decades, the business of casino gambling was illegal throughout most of the country. Even when it became legal, legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest money in gambling establishments, which had the taint of vice. Instead, mobsters financed casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, often taking sole or partial ownership of the properties and exerting control over operations.

In the early twenty-first century, the business of casino gambling has become increasingly upscale. High rollers—gamblers who spend large amounts of money—spend much of their time in special rooms away from the main casino floor, where the stakes can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. In return, they receive comps—free goods and services—including free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows, limo service and airline tickets.

Casinos are also heavily regulated, with security personnel patrolling the premises and monitoring closed-circuit television cameras that offer an “eye in the sky” view of the gaming area. The specialized surveillance departments look for patterns in the movements of gamblers and other signs of suspicious activity, such as a player suddenly lowering or raising his or her bets.

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