The Casino Industry

Like any industry in a capitalist society, the casino exists to make money. Successful ones rake in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that own them. State and local governments also reap casino revenues in the form of taxes and fees. While lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes help lure guests into casinos, the money that keeps them there comes from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, poker and craps provide the thrills and spills that generate the billions in profits for the casinos.

The origin of the word “casino” is unclear, but it was most likely coined in Italy from a combination of a small clubhouse and the Italian word for pleasure. The modern casino is a complex entertainment center that combines food, drink, entertainment and gambling in an environment designed to appeal to all the senses.

In the early 1950s, organized crime figures provided much of the cash to get casinos started in Reno and Las Vegas. The mobsters were not content to simply invest the money; they became personally involved and even took sole or partial ownership of some casinos. Their presence helped give casinos a seamy image that persists to this day.

Today, casinos are found all over the world. Most are located in states that have legalized gambling. Some have been built from scratch, while others were converted from existing hotels or other buildings. Several states have also allowed Native American tribes to operate casinos on reservations outside of their state borders.

As the popularity of casinos increased, investors and entrepreneurs realized that they could create a very profitable business by constructing large hotels with casino gambling floors. They also began to realize that they could attract gamblers from all over the country and internationally by offering spectacular entertainment and luxurious living quarters.

A survey of casino gamblers in Nevada revealed that the most popular game was slot machines, followed by poker and blackjack. Table games such as roulette and craps were only slightly less popular. Keno and gambling on sporting/racing events were even less popular. The survey was conducted by Gemini Research in March 2002.

Because of the large amounts of currency that change hands within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. This is why casinos spend a large amount of time and money on security. Many casinos have cameras located throughout the facility, and most employ professional security personnel.

Despite the huge revenue generated by casino gambling, critics claim that the net effect on the local economy is negative. They argue that gambling revenue siphons spending away from other forms of entertainment; that the expense of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity due to addiction cancels out any gains. In addition, they point out that the casinos’ own high payrolls further erode local job opportunities. In this way, casinos contribute to social problems that can only be addressed with a comprehensive public-health approach.