When people think of casinos, images of bright lights and big money come to mind. From the glitz of Las Vegas to the tiny mountain towns in Oklahoma that house 19th century Wild West buildings filled with slot machines and poker tables, the United States is home to casinos where people risk their money in hopes of striking it rich.
Casinos make their money by offering games of chance, or skill in some cases, for a fee. Most games have a built in mathematical advantage for the casino, which is known as the house edge. In addition to this house edge, casinos collect a percentage of winning bets from players, called a vig or rake.
Most modern casinos are staffed with a combination of physical security forces and a specialized surveillance department. The physical security team patrols the floor and responds to reports of suspicious or definite criminal activity, while the surveillance department operates the casino’s closed circuit television system.
In addition to the gambling floor and a variety of restaurants, most modern casinos offer a number of other entertainment and recreational activities. Many have large entertainment halls, which are often filled with world class musical acts and performances. Many casinos also feature a variety of arcades and other electronic gaming machines.
In the past, organized crime figures provided a lot of the financing for early casinos, giving them a seamy image. They were usually financed by rackets such as drug dealing and extortion, and mafia members frequently became involved with the casinos themselves. The mobsters were eager to invest in a business that had few regulations, and they were willing to take on the risks associated with casinos.