Whether you hit the slots, pull a hand of poker or throw some dice, a casino is a great place to satisfy a gambling craving. But it’s not just the games that make a casino; it’s also the ambience, the food and drinks, and other perks that help draw in the crowds.
Casinos are designed to lure gamblers in with glitzy decor, free food and drinks, and enticing games. But they’re also designed with security in mind. Casinos often have strict rules about what people can and cannot do, and they use technology to keep track of patrons.
The casino business first took off in Nevada in the 1950s as owners sought funds to expand and renovate their facilities and attract more Americans to Las Vegas. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to get involved in casinos because of their seamy image, but the mobsters were all too happy to provide the cash needed to keep the gambling machines rolling. The mob backed many casinos and eventually took sole or partial ownership of some of them, requiring casino personnel to toe the line.
As the casinos began to become more popular, other states legalized gambling. Atlantic City, New Jersey, opened its doors in 1978; Iowa legalized riverboat casinos; and several American Indian reservations grew to include casinos that were not subject to state antigambling laws. Casinos also spread to Latin America and Asia, with the first Asian casinos opening in Macau in 2002.
Casino security starts on the gaming floor, where casino employees are constantly watching the patrons and the games to spot any suspicious activity. Dealers can quickly notice blatant cheating such as palming, marking or switching cards and dice. Table managers and pit bosses watch over the tables with a broader view, making sure table limits are being met and observing betting patterns that could indicate cheating.
But the most sophisticated security in a casino is not visible to the patrons. Casinos routinely employ electronic systems to monitor the games themselves, such as “chip tracking” that allows them to see exactly what is being wagered minute-by-minute; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored for statistical deviations from expected results.
Casinos also have a strong focus on customer service. They offer a wide range of complimentary items for players known as “comps.” These perks can be anything from free food to hotel rooms, show tickets or even airline or limo service. They’re usually based on the amount of money a player spends at the tables or slots, as well as how long they play. Ask a casino employee for details.