What is a Casino?
A casino is a public place where various games of chance are played, and gambling is the primary activity. Some casinos add a variety of other attractions, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery, but any place that houses gambling activities can technically be called a casino. Casinos have been around for a long time, and their popularity has increased as more states legalize gambling.
Modern casinos are large, elaborate places with a wide variety of games and amenities. They usually have a physical security force and a specialized department that operates their closed circuit television system, the “eye in the sky”. The security department can be alerted to suspicious or definite criminal activity by a central control room.
The casino industry is characterized by a high growth potential, driven by new markets such as China and the US. However, it is also plagued by serious issues such as compulsive gambling and the loss of local jobs. Some economists argue that a casino’s net value to a community is negative, as it diverts spending from other forms of local entertainment and increases the cost of treating gambling addicts.
Many casinos are run by organized crime figures who use them to launder money from their drug dealing and extortion operations. Mafia money has been a mainstay of Reno and Las Vegas casinos, where mobster owners have taken over entire properties and sank millions into improvements. Legitimate businessmen, however, have much more money than the mobsters, and federal crackdowns on mob involvement mean that legitimate casino businesses can operate without mafia interference.