Security at a Casino

A casino is a gambling establishment that houses games of chance and offers a variety of perks designed to attract gamblers and keep them spending money. In the 1970s Las Vegas casinos promoted deeply discounted travel packages, cheap buffets and free show tickets in order to maximize their gambling revenue by packing as many patrons into their hotels and onto their gaming floors as possible. Since then, casinos have become choosier about who they bring in and focus more on making sure that those who do come in are spending money. They also spend large sums of money on security, and rely heavily on sophisticated surveillance systems and other technological tools to protect their customers from cheating and theft.

Something about the lure of winning money by luck seems to encourage some people to cheat, steal and scam their way into a jackpot, which is why casinos spend so much time and money on security. Casino security starts on the floor, where dealers watch over each other and the patrons with a careful eye, looking for any blatant cheating or suspicious behavior. Pit bosses and table managers have a broader view of the tables, watching for any patterns of betting that might suggest the existence of a hidden advantage. And there are the catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor, which allow surveillance personnel to look down through one-way glass at the activities on the tables and slot machines.

Casinos also use technology to keep an eye on the players themselves. Chips with built in microcircuitry allow casinos to track the exact amount of money being wagered minute by minute, and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly so that any deviation from their expected results can be quickly spotted. In games with a skill element, such as blackjack or poker, casinos also use computer programs that can identify the best basic strategy for any particular hand, and alert players when it is appropriate to change their bets.

All of this technology is designed to prevent cheating, theft and other forms of malfeasance, but it isn’t foolproof. Some people are simply too good at casino games, and it isn’t always possible to spot them before they win a big amount of money. Other people are so addicted to gambling that they actually drain the local economy by taking money from other sources of entertainment and, in some cases, even stealing from their own families. Economic studies have shown that compulsive gambling generates a greater net loss for the community than it brings in, and some governments have begun to limit or ban casino gambling altogether.