More than 51 million Americans—or about a quarter of all adults over 21—visited a casino in 2008. And although something about gambling seems to encourage cheating, stealing or scamming to beat the odds, casinos spend a lot of time, money and energy to keep their patrons safe.
While gamblers may be drawn to casinos by the promise of winning big money, casinos also lure them with a wide variety of amenities and entertainment. In addition to tables and slot machines, many casinos offer restaurants, bars, theaters and even spa services. And a growing number of casino resorts are designed as destinations in their own right.
Although gambling likely predates recorded history, the modern concept of a casino came about in the 16th century, when the craze for baccarat, roulette and other table games spread through Europe. Italian aristocrats would meet in private clubs called ridotti to gamble and socialize, and because these venues were technically not casinos, they were rarely bothered by legal authorities.
Whether it’s the dazzling lights of the Las Vegas strip or the crowded illegal pai gow parlors in New York’s Chinatown, something about casinos draws people to them like nothing else. And with the rise of technology, casinos have stepped up their efforts to make sure that their patrons stay safe. Cameras are now routinely used to monitor game play and players; betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that allows casinos to oversee how much is wagered minute by minute and to quickly detect statistical deviations from expected results.