The Casino Industry in the Twenty-First Century


A casino is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance or skill. In the United States, the term typically refers to a licensed and regulated gambling establishment. A number of states have legalized casinos, and the number continues to increase. Casinos are a significant source of revenue for some local governments. However, critics claim that they detract from the economy of a community and cause problems for many people who are addicted to gambling.

Gambling has long been a popular pastime for many people. In the twentieth century, it became a major industry worldwide. Although many countries have laws against gambling, these do not stop the growth of the industry or prevent its activity. In addition to the traditional games like blackjack, craps, and roulette, casinos offer a variety of other games that are popular in different regions of the world. These include far Eastern games such as sic bo and fan-tan, as well as Spanish games such as baccarat and pagoda.

Casinos earn money by charging a fee for each game played. This fee is a percentage of the total amount wagered and is called the house edge. Some casino games also have an element of skill, such as poker. In these games, the house takes a rake, which is a commission on bets placed by players. Casinos also make money from the sale of merchandise, drinks, and food.

In the 21st century, many casinos feature advanced security systems. They use high-tech “eyes-in-the-sky” that monitor each table, window, and doorway. The cameras can be adjusted to focus on specific patrons and to identify suspicious behavior. Casinos also have a security staff that constantly patrols the floor.

To draw in customers, casinos utilize a wide range of marketing and promotional strategies. In the twenty-first century, they are increasingly focusing on a smaller group of “high rollers” who spend more than the average customer. These people are often given extravagant inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, transportation, and elegant living quarters. Casinos also advertise on television and in print media.

In the United States, casino gaming has become a popular pastime. In 2005, approximately 51 million Americans—or about one-quarter of all people over the age of twenty-one—visited a casino. Many of these visits were made to Las Vegas. Other popular destinations for casino gambling include Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Chicago. In addition to offering gambling, most casinos provide first-rate dining and shopping. The MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip, for example, features 60 large plasma TVs for sports betting. The MGM Grand also offers a variety of table games, including poker and blackjack. Its casino was featured in the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven. The Las Vegas Strip has numerous other famous casinos. Many of these are owned by international companies.