A casino is a gambling establishment that offers games of chance and skill. The largest casinos can be found in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Chicago. But you can also find casinos in many other places: cruise ships, truck stops and racetracks (where they are called racinos). Casino gambling is a billion-dollar industry that benefits a host of individuals, companies and institutions: the casinos themselves; the employees, dealers and slot machine manufacturers; the hotel and restaurant operators; the gaming commissions, regulators and tax collectors; and even state and local governments that reap revenues from taxes on casinos.
Casinos employ a variety of strategies to lure gamblers, from simple lights and sounds to elaborate, expensive trappings. In 2008, 24% of Americans reported visiting a casino. Interestingly, among those who did go to a casino, most (56%) preferred slot machines to table games.
The casinos that survive and thrive are those with a high percentage of patrons who play for large amounts. They offer big bettors extravagant inducements in the form of free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation and elegant living quarters. Even lesser bettors are courted with comps: food, drinks and cigarette breaks.
Something about gambling—whether it’s the excitement of winning, the temptation to cheat or steal, or simply the large sums of money involved—may inspire some people to become addicted to the game. Studies show that problem gamblers generate a disproportionate amount of casino profits, but the cost of treating addiction and lost productivity reverse any positive economic gains casinos may bring to the community.