Casinos are entertainment venues that draw people in with the promise of winning large sums of money by playing games of chance. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers may attract visitors, but the bulk of the billions of dollars in profits made by casinos every year come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, poker and baccarat are among the popular games of chance that generate such huge profits.
Gambling in its various forms has been part of human culture as long as humans have walked the earth. It is widely believed that the ancient Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman civilizations offered some form of entertainment based on chance. During the 20th century, casinos proliferated across the United States and around the world. Nevada and Atlantic City became known as “the gambling capitals of the world.”
Today, most modern casinos are sophisticated entertainment complexes, complete with hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping centers and other entertainment facilities. They offer a wide variety of gaming options to satisfy all tastes, including the latest in technology. They have an overall high-class appearance and are often built in spectacular settings, such as in the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco.
Security in a casino begins on the casino floor, where employees keep an eye out for blatant cheating or other illegal activities. Dealers at table games have a close-up view of the betting chips and can quickly spot inconsistencies; pit bosses and other managers have a wider perspective on the action, watching for patrons who may be stealing from others or attempting to mark cards or dice. Casinos also have electronic systems to monitor the exact amount of money wagered on each game minute by minute, alerting them instantly of any statistical deviations from expected results.
In addition to casino staff, security personnel may be hired by players based on their level of play. Players who spend the most money are referred to as “big spenders.” Such players can receive free hotel rooms, meals, show tickets and even airline and limo service if they are frequent visitors who are rated as good gamblers by casino management. The precise rules and policies governing comps are usually confidential, but most casinos award them to high-level regulars based on their total spending at the casino over a specific period of time.
Something about gambling (perhaps the presence of enormous amounts of money) encourages people to try to cheat or steal their way into a jackpot. Because of this, casinos devote a great deal of time, effort and money on security measures to deter criminal activity and protect their customers’ financial interests. The security measures that are used vary by casino and by country. In the United States, most state laws require that casino security personnel be licensed and certified by the state’s gaming control board. Many of these security personnel have specialized training in areas such as criminal justice, law enforcement and fire science. Many casinos hire former FBI agents and other law enforcement professionals to fill the top ranks of their security departments.