The Casino Effect on the Community


From the glitz of Las Vegas to the illegal pai gow parlors of New York’s Chinatown, casino gambling draws millions of people from all over the world. These visitors spend billions of dollars in the casinos, generating enormous profits for the owners, operators, and local, state, and federal governments that tax them. These profits are offset by the costs of treating problem gamblers and the loss of productivity from their addiction. Some studies have found that the net effect of a casino on its community is negative.

A casino, from the French word for “peace,” is a gambling establishment that allows patrons to wager on games of chance and skill. A casino also includes restaurants and entertainment venues. Casinos are located in major cities, on cruise ships, at racetracks converted to racinos, and in many states where gambling is legal.

Most casino games give the house a long-term mathematical advantage, although some allow players to eliminate this edge with skillful play. The advantage of the casino is known as the house edge or vigorish, and it can be determined for individual games by analyzing the rules and examining optimal plays. Players who are able to eliminate the house edge by using this knowledge are called advantage players.

To attract and retain customers, casinos offer free or discounted drinks and shows, comped hotel rooms and meals, and other amenities. In the 21st century, casinos are becoming choosier about their patrons and concentrate their investments on high rollers. These players gamble in special rooms, away from the main floor, where their stakes can be tens of thousands of dollars. They are given extravagant inducements, such as luxury suites and limousine transportation. Casinos also employ elaborate surveillance systems, with cameras in the ceiling that can be directed at specific tables or windows.