When most people think of casino, they envision the bright lights and big money of Las Vegas or Atlantic City. But casinos exist throughout the United States, from the bustling city of Reno to tiny mountain towns with 19th century Wild West buildings filled with slot machines and poker tables. Some of these places are devoted to specific games, such as sic bo (popular in Asia) or fan-tan. Others are more general and offer a wide variety of games, including blackjack, baccarat, poker and video poker.
The casino industry is highly regulated, both to protect patrons from fraud and to ensure that the games are fair. To this end, casinos invest heavily in technology. Video cameras monitor every facet of the casino floor, and computer systems constantly oversee individual games. For example, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that enables casinos to keep track of the exact amounts wagered minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviation from expected results.
While gambling has positive psychological effects for some people, it can become addictive, especially if the games are played with more than one person or when the gambler is not in control of his or her finances. For this reason, it is important to play only with the money you can afford to lose and never borrow to fund gambling activities. According to a 2005 study by Roper Reports GfK NOP and the U.S. Gaming Panel by TNS, the average American casino gambler is a forty-six year old woman with an above average income.