The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with lighted fountains, musical shows, shopping centers and hotels all adding to its appeal. But the vast majority of the billions of dollars raked in by casinos every year come from games of chance, which include slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and poker. The more sophisticated casinos also offer other gambling options, such as baccarat, sic bo and fan-tan, along with the traditional Far Eastern games of keno and pai gow.
Something about gambling (perhaps the presence of large amounts of money) encourages people to try to cheat or steal, either in collusion with others or on their own. That’s why casinos invest a lot of time and money on security.
Besides a full security staff, casinos use high-tech surveillance systems to keep track of everyone who enters and leaves the building. In addition, casino employees are trained to spot suspicious activities, from blatant palming of cards or dice to betting patterns that might signal cheating. Most table games also have a pit boss or manager who monitors each game and its players, looking for telltale signs of cheating.
Casinos use mathematicians and computer programmers to analyze the house edge and variance of their games. This work reveals how much the casino can expect to make on each bet and helps it manage its cash reserves. Some casinos hire these professionals in-house, while others outsource their needs to companies specializing in gaming analysis.
In America, the most famous casinos are in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But more recently, casinos have begun to appear on Native American reservations and in many other states that haven’t enacted state antigambling laws. There are now about 3,000 legal casinos in operation around the country, with the largest concentration in Nevada and on Native American reservations.
While many of the world’s most popular casinos are located in the United States, the biggest casinos in terms of floor space can be found in Asia. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, for example, boasts three towers that are connected and topped by a roof deck with stunning skyline views. Among the attractions here is the world’s highest infinity pool, where scenesters flock to see and be seen. The other big draw is the hotel, which has 1,800 rooms and a variety of entertainment options—including 12 major shows running at any given time.