A casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the majority of its attractions (and profits) coming from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and other games of chance account for the billions in profits that casinos rake in each year. The casinos’ hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers offer a variety of other activities to draw in guests. But they would not exist without games of chance.
The casino industry has exploded. In the 1970s, Las Vegas casinos focused on filling hotel rooms and the casino floor with as many people as possible by offering discounted travel packages, free buffets and show tickets. This strategy was based on the fact that the more people gambled, the higher the revenue. Other American states legalized gambling during the 1980s, and Native American reservations became a popular location for casino development.
By the 1990s, many casinos were so lavishly outfitted that they were more like high-end resorts than gambling venues. They had red-and-gold poker rooms and a plethora of blackjack and roulette tables. In Germany, the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden became a casino magnet for royalty and the aristocracy; German actress Marlene Dietrich referred to it as “the most beautiful casino in the world.”
Today’s casinos are choosier about who they let in. They spend a lot of money on security and provide an array of perks to encourage gamblers to spend more than they might otherwise. They also try to minimize the number of unauthorized visitors, and they use technology to ensure that everyone is playing fairly. In some cases, this means electronic monitoring of roulette wheels and dice to discover statistical deviations from expected results.
In other cases, casinos rely on mathematicians and computer programmers who specialize in gaming analysis. These specialists know both the house edge of each game and its variance, which is how much of a player’s bankroll will be lost over time. Casinos that hire these experts are incentivized to design and test their games so they are fair and not rigged.
Besides monitoring the game, these specialists help to train dealers and oversee the vig, or rake, that the casino collects from each player. They are also responsible for determining how often a game should be reset to reduce the variance and increase player winnings. These gaming analysts are in demand, and there are a limited number of them. The most successful ones are highly regarded and earn good salaries. They are often able to find jobs at the top gaming companies. The industry also employs security personnel, and these are sometimes armed. The armed security guards are usually stationed at the entrance to the casino, as well as in areas where large sums of money are handled. This includes cashier stations, the baccarat table and the poker room. In some countries, armed security is mandatory. In some countries, the armed security guards are in uniform and wear identification badges.