The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with most of the entertainment (and profits for the owner) coming from gambling. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels may draw in the crowds, it is the games of chance that generate billions of dollars in profits each year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are the most popular casino games. Some casinos even offer video poker and keno.
Modern casinos are largely protected from criminal activity by cameras, security personnel and rules of conduct. They also use catwalks above the casino floor, which allow surveillance personnel to look directly down on patrons at their tables and slot machines through one way glass. Security is usually divided between a physical security force and a specialized surveillance department. Security staff patrol the casino floor, watching for blatant cheating or suspicious behavior by patrons and responding to reports of criminal activity.
Casinos earn their profits by taking a small percentage of each bet placed on the casino’s table games, video poker and slots. This is called the house edge, and it is built into every game offered in a casino. The advantage can be as low as two percent, but over time this edge adds up to billions in annual profits. In addition, many American casinos supplement their gambling income with revenue from other sources such as restaurants, shows and hotel rooms. However, critics argue that casinos do not bring any economic benefit to their communities and that the cost of treating compulsive gamblers offsets any financial gains.