The modern casino is essentially an indoor amusement park for adults. While elaborate themes and lavish decor are all part of the overall experience, the vast majority of the entertainment is generated by gambling. Games of chance like blackjack, roulette, and slot machines generate billions of dollars in profit for U.S. casinos each year. Other games include craps, video poker, and baccarat. However, there are some dark side effects associated with casinos, too.
In the 1990s, casinos began implementing technology to increase their security. Computers and video cameras routinely monitor the casino’s operations, while “chip tracking” uses microcircuitry in betting chips. Points can be exchanged for free slot play, food, drinks, and even tickets to show events. Comp programs are useful marketing tools for casinos, as they allow operators to build up patron databases for advertising and trend tracking. For example, if a patron plays blackjack and loses ten dollars, they can receive twenty-five cents worth of free slot play.
Although gambling is a highly lucrative industry, the risks associated with it make casinos a poor choice for many people. While casinos are generally a safe bet for visitors, compulsive gamblers generate 25 percent of the casino’s profit. Furthermore, according to economic studies, the value of a casino is negative for local communities. While most gamblers are local residents, casinos shift funds from other forms of entertainment in their area. Additionally, the costs of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity from addiction could overshadow any potential economic benefits.