The Dark Side of Casinos


Gambling is the main activity that makes casinos tick, and while dazzling stage shows, gourmet restaurants and luxurious hotels add to their allure, casino profits are largely generated by games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps provide the billions that casino owners rake in every year. While a casino can be like an indoor amusement park, it also includes a darker side.

Originally, a casino was simply an area that housed gambling activities. Today, however, casino is a term used to describe the entire experience of playing at a modern gambling facility, including restaurants, bars, free drinks and dramatic scenery. The biggest casinos are designed to be a fun and exciting environment. They often have a theme that is promoted with bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that are intended to stimulate and cheer people up. Some even have no clocks, as time is easily lost in the commotion and excitement of the gambling scene.

A casino’s main goal is to persuade people to gamble with money they do not have or do not care to spend. To this end, the glitzy and glamorous atmosphere is created by noise, lights, bright colors, and the use of scents to evoke feelings of excitement and wealth. Drinks are plentiful and served by waiters who circulate through the gaming areas. Alcoholic drinks are usually free, while nonalcoholic beverages are complimentary. Casinos are often decorated with red, a color that is believed to stimulate the brain and make gamblers lose track of time.

Another way casinos try to lure gamblers is by offering them free food, rooms or tickets to shows and other attractions. The most loyal players receive “comps,” or complimentary goods and services, based on the amount of money they gamble and their frequency of play. These can include anything from meals at the casino’s gourmet restaurants to limo service and airline tickets.

During the 1980s and 1990s, many American states amended their laws to permit casino gambling, especially on Native American reservations. As a result, many cities built new casinos and Atlantic City became the world’s premier gambling destination. Casinos also began to open on riverboats, which were not subject to state antigambling laws.

In 2005, the average casino gambler was a forty-six-year-old female from a family with an above-average income. These women made up 23% of all casino patrons, according to a survey conducted by Roper Reports and the U.S. Gaming Panel for TNS.

The most popular casino game is the slot machine, which offers high-speed thrills and can be played with a single quarter. Other top games include video poker and blackjack, which require skill and concentration. However, the odds of winning are slim. The majority of people who gamble at a casino do not walk away with more money than they started with. Those who do manage to win are the ones who know which games are more likely to pay off and who avoid the costly mistakes that often lead to large losses.