From the glitzy megacasinos of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York City’s Chinatown, casinos have always been places where people can gamble and play games of chance. They often offer more than just gambling; they may have restaurants, hotels, bars, non-gambling game rooms, pools, spas and other facilities to appeal to the whole family.
Casinos make their money primarily from gambling, but they also earn significant revenue from other activities like shows and dining. In 2002, about 51 million Americans (about a quarter of all those age 21 or older) visited a casino. The popularity of slot machines, blackjack, roulette and poker help drive this figure.
Unlike table games where player skill can affect the outcome, slot machines require little skill and simply take in money and return a predetermined amount if the right pattern appears on varying bands of colored shapes rolling on reels. A machine may have actual physical reels or a video representation of them.
Because so much money changes hands in a casino, security is a major concern. Most modern casinos employ cameras, electronic monitoring and other technological safeguards. In addition, casino employees and patrons are often trained to recognize suspicious activity. For example, the way dealers handle cards and the locations of betting spots on a table follow certain patterns that make it easier for security personnel to spot irregular behavior. Casinos often offer comps to players who spend a lot of time and/or money gambling there, such as free hotel rooms, restaurant meals, tickets to shows and limo or airline service.