A casino is a place where a variety of games of chance can be played and gambling activities take place. A casino offers a wide range of table and slot machines as well as a number of other gambling devices such as dice, dominos, and roulette wheels. Several casinos also offer high-end dining options and luxurious accommodations. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is perhaps the most famous of all casinos, with its dancing fountains and luxury accommodation. It has been featured in movies such as Ocean’s 11.
Gambling is not an activity for everyone, but it is not illegal and many people enjoy visiting a casino. The American Gaming Association estimates that about 51 million people – approximately one quarter of all adults over the age of 21 in the United States – visited a casino in 2002. The casino industry is a multibillion dollar business.
Unlike lotteries, in which the house takes all bets and does not need to win, each game in a casino has a mathematical expectancy of winning. Because of this, the house must win more bets than it loses in order to make a profit. This is known as the “house edge” and it is the main source of revenue for the casino.
The casino industry attracts a diverse group of patrons, from teenagers to retirees. In 2005, the average casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with an above-average income. Casino gambling is a social activity and patrons often interact with each other, shouting encouragement or complaining about their losses. In addition to table games, many casinos have a wide selection of video poker machines and slots.
Casinos rely on sophisticated technology to ensure their security and protect their profits. Elaborate surveillance systems provide an eye-in-the-sky view of the casino floor with cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. There are also catwalks in the ceiling above the casino tables that allow security personnel to look down through one-way glass at the activities on the tables and slot machines.
Despite their technological sophistication, casinos still rely on old-fashioned perks and incentives to lure gamblers. High-stakes players are offered free spectacular entertainment, expensive transportation and elegant living quarters, while lesser bettors are given reduced-fare transportation, hotel rooms and free drinks and cigarettes while they gamble. The casino industry also advertises to potential customers by promoting its brand and logo through television, radio and print ads. Casinos also encourage gambling by offering discounts to groups such as senior citizens, students and military personnel.