The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults. Musical shows, lighted fountains and elaborate hotel themes all add to the appeal but the vast majority of profits come from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other popular gambling games account for billions in profits each year.
The etymology of the word casino is unclear, but it has evolved to denote a variety of leisure activities as well as games of chance. In its earliest form, the term was used to describe an Italian country villa or summerhouse for social gatherings. By the mid-20th century, mobster money had infused casinos with cash and a shady reputation. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to invest in gambling establishments with a criminal image, and they hoped that federal anti-mob regulations and the threat of losing their licenses would keep gangsters away from their cash cows.
During the 1990s, casinos dramatically increased their use of technology for surveillance and monitoring their games. In addition to video cameras, casinos use systems that electronically monitor the chips in blackjack and roulette tables so they can see instantly any deviation from statistical expectations; and some tables even have a “chip tracking” system that records the exact amount of each bet minute-by-minute. These systems and other surveillance techniques allow casinos to detect any cheating or rigging, and they help reduce the overall house edge on all of their gaming offerings. In the future, casinos will continue to evolve and innovate in an effort to attract customers and retain them.