A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Though musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers draw in the crowds, the billions of dollars in profits that casinos rake in every year would not exist without games of chance: slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other such games are what really make casinos tick.
Gambling was once illegal in most states, but even when it was legal, many legitimate businesses were reluctant to get involved with casinos because of the taint of gambling’s seamy past. However, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from their drug dealing and extortion rackets and saw casinos as a potential source of income. They backed the growth of casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, often taking sole or partial ownership of the facilities and exerting influence over the outcome of many games.
Modern casino security is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. Both of these groups work very closely together to ensure the safety and protection of casino patrons and assets. Besides the obvious use of cameras, a host of other technology is used in casino surveillance: betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to enable the casinos to track exact amounts wagered minute by minute; the tables are monitored electronically and alerted to any statistical deviations; and roulette wheels are rigged with electronic sensors to detect tampering or any mechanical problems.
Comps are free goods or services given to loyal patrons of a casino, usually based on their level of spending and the amount of time they spend at each game. They can include everything from food, drinks and hotel rooms to show tickets and limo service.