A casino is an establishment for gambling. In addition to the usual casino games, most casinos also offer restaurants, retail shops, hotels, and/or entertainment venues. In the United States, over 51 million people visited casinos in 2008, and the figure is probably much higher worldwide.
A large part of the appeal is visual: glitzy hotels, fountains, and replicas of famous pyramids, towers, and landmarks help draw visitors; elaborate stage shows, top-notch restaurants, and elegant living quarters round out the package. But the real moneymakers are the games of chance—slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, and other table games bring in billions of dollars every year.
While the clinking of coins and shuffling of cards may be what draws many to casino floors, the business is not without its dark side. The high-stakes games often involve complex math and can leave players with severe psychological problems. Moreover, gambling can lead to addiction and ruin lives.
To mitigate these dangers, casinos are designed with a variety of security measures. Cameras and monitors cover the gaming areas to catch cheating, shady characters, or other suspicious behavior. The cameras are connected to a control room filled with banks of screens that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. In addition to surveillance technology, casinos rely on customer service perks like free food and show tickets, discounted hotel rooms, and reduced-fare transportation to entice gamblers.