Almost everyone loves to gamble, and casinos are designed to accommodate this love of risk-taking. From the flashy casino resorts in Las Vegas to the pai gow tables in Chinatown, there are no shortage of places to try your luck. But while they may have lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes, the majority of the billions of dollars raked in by casinos every year comes from gambling.
Casinos make their money by offering patrons a range of games, many with an element of skill and all with mathematically determined odds that ensure the house has an advantage over the players. Some casinos offer a percentage of the money lost to customers as a ‘house edge’ while others, such as poker and roulette, charge players a ‘rake’ for playing.
Most casinos have an enormous amount of security to guard against cheating and theft by patrons. Employees are trained to spot blatant attempts to rig the game, such as palming or marking cards or dice. Table managers and pit bosses have a wider view of the casino floor and keep an eye out for betting patterns that could indicate cheating. Elaborate surveillance systems provide an ‘eye-in-the-sky’ for the entire casino, and are adjusted to focus on suspects by security personnel in a separate room filled with banks of video monitors.
As casinos became popular, organized crime groups began investing in them, taking full or partial ownership and using their criminal contacts to control the games and tamper with the results. The mobsters brought the money, but also the seamy image and often used their muscle to intimidate casino owners and workers.