What’s in a Casino?

A casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults. Musical shows, shopping centers and elaborate themes draw in the crowds, but it’s games of chance that generate billions in profits for owners every year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are the most popular games in casinos.

During the 1950s, casinos became a major source of income for organized crime figures. Mafia members pumped cash into Reno and Las Vegas, but they also got involved personally, taking sole or partial ownership of some casinos and influencing the outcome of games by threats to casino staff.

Today, casinos use advanced technology to monitor the integrity of their games. For example, chip tracking allows them to see how much is being wagered minute by minute, and computer programs alert them when there’s a statistical anomaly in a game’s expected result. A number of other techniques are used to prevent cheating and fraud.

Some economists argue that the negative social and economic impact of compulsive gambling outweighs any benefits a casino might bring to a community. They point out that casinos shift local spending away from other forms of entertainment and that the costs of treating problem gamblers can offset any tax revenues a casino might generate.

If you’re planning a trip to a casino, research the specific location before making reservations. Find out whether it offers the types of games you’re interested in playing, what kinds of dining options are available and the availability of amenities such as spas, rooftop pools or karaoke bars. You may also want to consider the availability of local public transportation.

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