A casino, or gambling hall, is a place where various games of chance are played and where gambling is the primary activity. A casino makes money by taking a percentage of the amount of money wagered on those games. About 51 million people—a quarter of the American population over 21—visited a casino in 2002. Casinos are often located in special buildings or on dedicated properties, and they may feature restaurants, bars, live entertainment, and more.
In the twentieth century casinos became increasingly specialized. They offered a more diverse range of gambling opportunities, and they began to focus on customer service and perks that encourage gamblers to spend more money than average. For example, they offer “comps,” or complimentary items, such as free hotel rooms, cheap meals, and show tickets. In addition, they use bright, sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings that are thought to stimulate and cheer gamblers. They also avoid clocks on the walls because they are considered to confuse and distract customers.
Casinos rely on security technologies to keep their patrons safe and their operations running smoothly. For instance, elaborate surveillance systems provide a high-tech eye-in-the-sky that can monitor the entire casino floor from a control room. In addition, some casinos have betting chips with built-in microcircuitry that enables them to track the amount of money bet minute-by-minute; and roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly so that suspicious patterns can be detected. Casinos can also enforce security through rules of conduct and behavior.