Imagine you are strolling through a twinkly casino filled with slot machines, one-armed bandits, blackjack tables and other games of chance. Glittering lights, elaborate stages and five-star food entertainment are all part of the scene but what goes on behind the scenes?
Casinos fascinate even people who don’t gamble. They are a place of glamour, fantasy and big dreams where the wealthy become richer and the poor can try to get lucky with a spin of the roulette wheel or a roll of the dice. Yet casinos are really complex places that have to manage a wide range of things. They have to keep their patrons happy, fed and entertained while also ensuring that their millions of dollars in bets don’t disappear into the ether.
A good portion of a casino’s revenue comes from the house edge built into each game. While this advantage is usually less than two percent, over time it adds up to enough money to pay for the casino’s luxuries. Casinos also collect a fee called the vig or rake from each machine that is based on the odds of winning and losing. Casinos also set rules and regulations to prevent fraud and theft. They use high-tech surveillance systems that provide a “eye-in-the-sky” view of the entire casino and can be adjusted to watch specific patrons. They also monitor the physical integrity of their games, using technology to spot sloppy dealing, card marking and other cheating techniques.
Another way casinos make money is by offering big bettors extravagant inducements to keep them playing and gambling. These can include free spectacular entertainment, luxurious living quarters and transportation. They may also offer food and drink comps, discounted hotel rooms and other amenities. For smaller bettors they offer reduced-fare transportation and other inducements such as free drinks and cigarettes while gambling.
While casinos rely on luck, strategy and good management to run their establishments, they also employ an army of employees who are trained to look for any signs that players are trying to steal or cheat. This is a major concern, given the slim margins in many of the games. For example, my friend who worked security at a casino told me that some people would stand in front of slot machines soiling themselves because they thought they were on a winning streak. This type of behavior can lead to arrest and jail, so it is taken seriously in all casinos.
There is so much more to a casino than meets the eye, though. These places need to be managed 24 hours a day and there is often much more going on than just gambling and stage shows. For instance, a casino may have several different sections with different managers and each of these has their own concerns to address. For example, one of these might have staff who closely oversee high-stakes card games while the slots have a completely different group of managers. This means that there is someone watching each area of the casino every second of the day.