The Casino Industry


The modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with most of the profits (and fun) coming from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps and other table games provide billions in profits for casinos each year, and attract visitors from all over the world. While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels help to lure customers, casinos would not exist without games of chance.

Gambling probably existed as early as ancient times, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at archeological sites. But the idea of a place for people to gamble and enjoy entertainment under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats often met in private clubs called ridotti, where gambling was the main attraction. Even though gambling was illegal, these clubs were seldom bothered by the authorities.

In the United States, there are now more than 200 licensed casinos. Most are located in states where casino gambling is legal, although a few are on Native American reservations or at racetracks that have added casino-style games. Casinos bring in billions of dollars each year for the companies, investors and Native American tribes that own them. They also generate tax revenues for local and state governments.

While the casino industry is dominated by Las Vegas-style giants, there are many smaller, privately owned casinos. Some are in small card rooms or on barges moored on riverboats. Others are on cruise ships or at truck stops, and still others are located in hotel towers, golf courses, malls or other non-gaming venues.

The biggest money makers are the high rollers, who play for large stakes. These players can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars in a single session. In return, they are offered generous “comps” like free luxury suites and other perks. The high rollers are the backbone of the casino industry, and their loyalty is crucial to its survival.

The average casino patron is a forty-six-year-old woman with an above-average income. This demographic is especially important to the success of Native American-owned casinos, which cater to this segment of the population. While younger adults may visit a casino for the free shows, they tend to gamble less than their older counterparts.

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