A casino is a special place that houses games of chance where gamblers can play and wager. Many casinos offer stage shows, restaurants and free drinks to entice patrons to wager their money.
While music shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels may lure visitors into the doors, the vast majority of casino profits come from games of chance. Slot machines, poker, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions in profits raked in every year by U.S. casinos, earning them top profits among entertainment venues.
Despite the huge profits, gambling is not without its dark side. Some casinos use a variety of methods to cheat players. For instance, some dealers use a technique called palming, where they mark or switch cards or dice to increase their own winnings. Others tamper with the spinners of slot machines to manipulate payouts. And, in a more subtle way, some casino managers have become expert at reading betting patterns and making bets to their advantage.
But the casino industry has evolved significantly since gangsters controlled it in the 1930s. Real estate investors and hotel chains have deep pockets and have bought out mobsters to take over the businesses, turning casinos into lucrative cash cows that have made them profitable even in economic downturns. Still, mob involvement remains a concern, with federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of criminal activity. Casinos also must keep their patrons safe by deploying surveillance systems and other security measures that are designed to catch crooks in the act.