The Dark Side of the Casino

A casino is a place where people play a variety of games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in customers, the vast majority of a casino’s profits are generated by gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are among the most popular games played in casinos. Historically, casinos have also offered free drinks, food and stage shows to encourage patrons to gamble.

Casinos earn money by giving away complimentary goods or services to high-level players, known as comps. These include free hotel rooms, dinners and tickets to shows. The amount of time a player spends at a particular table or on a particular machine determines how much the casino will give out in comps.

Some casinos have a dark side. Studies suggest that compulsive gamblers generate a disproportionate share of the industry’s profits, diverting spending away from other entertainment and into casinos. The gambling addictions of these patrons cost the community in the form of social welfare costs and lost productivity.

In the past, mobster involvement in casinos was common. However, the influx of real estate investors and large hotel chains has made casinos less dependent on mafia protection. In addition, federal crackdowns on organized crime and the threat of losing a license at even the hint of mob involvement has forced many casinos to keep their distance from mafia bosses. This has helped keep casino profits stable. Casinos have also become more selective in who they allow to gamble, concentrating their investments on “high rollers,” or those who spend tens of thousands of dollars on a single game.