A casino is a gambling establishment. In 2002, according to the American Gaming Association, 51 million people – about one quarter of all Americans over 21 – visited a casino. Most went to Las Vegas, where casinos are huge businesses minting money in the billions.
How do casinos make all that money? They make money by enticing gamblers to spend more than they would if they were playing their own games at home. They use noise, light and other sensory stimuli to get gamblers excited about the possibility of winning big. They offer free alcoholic drinks to encourage players to keep betting. The casino environment is designed to make the games exciting and fast-paced, ensuring that players will be distracted from the fact that they are losing money.
Something about the nature of casino gambling seems to encourage cheating and stealing. In addition to a staff of security guards, casinos use high-tech surveillance systems to keep an eye on everything. These cameras can see through walls, change windows and track patrons walking by. They can even spot a suspicious betting pattern. And if someone does break the rules, the video feeds can be reviewed after the fact.
But despite the built-in advantage that gives casinos their profits, not all gambling is lost. Casinos generate significant tax revenues in the communities where they are located. These revenues can be used to reduce local unemployment rates, fund community services and reduce the taxes on other sources of revenue in the city.