The Dark Side of Casinos

The Dark Side of Casinos


Casinos make money through gambling games such as blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. They offer other forms of entertainment such as musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers, but the vast majority of their billions in profits come from games of chance. This article explores the history of casinos, how they earn their money and some of the dark sides of the business.

Casinos can be designed around a variety of themes and features, but most strive to make gamblers feel like they are experiencing something unique and exciting. Lush carpets, richly colored walls and carefully controlled lighting help patrons forget about the passing of time while they are betting away their hard earned cash. Casinos can even feature a central attraction such as a sports car or replica of an ancient pyramid to further heighten the sense of excitement.

In addition to the opulent atmosphere, casinos try to persuade gamblers to spend more money by offering food and drink. Alcoholic drinks are served at the tables and by waiters circulating throughout the floor, while nonalcoholic beverages are often available free of charge. Gamblers are encouraged to interact with one another by shouting encouragement or giving each other a thumbs up or down, and are encouraged to make noise to distract other players from hearing their losses.

The security of a casino is a top priority, and casinos invest in the latest technology to ensure that their patrons are safe from fraud, cheating and theft. Dedicated security personnel keep an eye on each table and game, and can easily spot blatant cheating such as palming or marking cards. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the tables and can also spot patterns in betting behavior that could indicate stealing or cheating. In addition to security cameras, casinos employ a variety of other technology to protect their patrons.

As the popularity of casinos has increased, they have become a significant source of tax revenue for many states. But critics point out that casinos suck money out of local economies by diverting tourists from other local attractions such as museums and restaurants, and that the cost of treating problem gambling and the decline in property values due to casino expansion can more than offset any economic gains.

In some cases, the owners of casinos are members of organized crime families who have made a fortune through gambling. However, the mob has been losing ground to real estate developers and hotel chains that have purchased out the mobsters and run their casinos independently. In addition, federal regulations and the threat of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of Mafia involvement help keep organized crime out of the gambling business. However, even with this increased scrutiny, the number of casino-related crimes continues to increase. The FBI estimates that in 2007, there were approximately 4,500 illegal gambling operations involving $120 billion in proceeds. This is an alarming figure, and one that the industry must continue to fight against.