The Dark Side of the Casino Industry


A casino is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance. While the modern casino may offer other entertainment such as musical shows, lighted fountains and hotels, it would not exist without gambling, which brings in billions of dollars in profits to its owners each year. This article takes a look at casinos, how they make their money and the dark side of the gambling industry.

Despite the fact that gambling likely predates recorded history (primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice have been found at archaeological sites), the modern casino did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept through Europe and Italian aristocrats began to hold private parties called ridotti where they could gamble legally. These were not, however, technically casinos since they did not gather a large number of patrons to play in one place at the same time and did not offer food, drink or other entertainment, so they were not subject to state gaming laws.

In addition to the obvious security personnel who guard players and watch them as they play, a casino employs mathematicians and computer programmers who study game theory to determine the mathematical expectancy of each machine or table and to ensure that payouts are fair. These employees are referred to as gaming mathematicians and analysts.

A casino offers its patrons the opportunity to win money by using random chance, but something about the atmosphere in a casino seems to encourage cheating and other unsavory activities. This is why casinos invest a great deal of money in security. Critics argue that the net effect of a casino is negative for the community because it shifts local spending away from other forms of entertainment and causes problems with compulsive gambling.