In a casino, visitors gamble on games of chance, and in some cases with an element of skill. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps provide the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in each year. Musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels help attract visitors. But casinos would not exist without the games of chance.
Casinos make money because every game they offer has a built in advantage for the house, usually less than two percent. This advantage, which is also known as the vig or rake, is enough to give casinos the virtual assurance that they will never lose money on any given day. This guarantee of gross profit allows casinos to offer big bettors extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, transportation and elegant living quarters.
Despite their glamorous glitz and glamor, casinos are complex businesses with a dark side. They require a careful weighing of risk and reward, wise decisions and a little bit of luck. Casinos are often associated with mob activity, but federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gambling license at the slightest hint of mafia involvement have driven many of these operations underground.
Typically, modern casinos have two distinct security departments. A physical security force patrols the building and responds to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activities, while a specialized surveillance department operates the closed circuit television system that monitors all activity in the casino through cameras that can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons from a separate room filled with banks of security monitors. In addition to these specialized cameras, some casinos have catwalks in the ceiling that allow security personnel to look directly down, through one way glass, on all table and slot machine action.