Studies have shown that today's casino players are typically graduates in
white-collar jobs with a higher than average income, who gamble to win
money. A survey carried out by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc. of New York
found that, for three out of four casino visitors, their prime motive is
to win, while 57 per cent go for entertainment and recreation. Australians
are the western world's biggest gamblers, spending over $2,000 a year per
head of population. A close second are Americans at $1,800 per head of
Casinos operate around the world, mainly in tourist areas
including Las Vegas, Australia's Gold Coast, and resorts in the Mediterranean
and Caribbean. Gaming is mostly state controlled and is an important
contributor to national and local revenues, although percentages vary from
country to country.
Gaming is a huge industry in the USA, where it is legal in
24 states. There has been a casino building boom in recent years, particularly
in Nevada. Gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1978, to
revitalize the rundown seaside resort.
In 1987, after a legal battle, the US Supreme Court finally
recognized the right of native Americans to operate gaming establishments on
their reservations. Since 1989, over 300 new gaming operations have been established
on Indian reservations. The largest casino in the world, Foxwoods Resort in
Connecticut, is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Tribe and attracts over
16 million visitors annually. It comprises two hotels and five separate
casinos. Foxwoods has 140,000m2 (1,5 million sq ft) of floor space,
of which 28,000m2 (300,000 sq ft) is devoted to gaming.
Las Vegas reigns supreme as the "casino capital"
of the world, attracting 30 million visitors annually to over 50 casinos. When
Wilbur Clark opened the Desert Inn on 24 April 1950, he ceremonially threw
away the keys, announcing there would never be a reason to lock the door
again. The tradition continues today, with most Las Vegas casinos opening 24
hours, seven days a week. The minimum age for gambling in Nevada is 21 years.
The 1960s saw the legalization in the UK. Bringing the
gaming industry within the law led to the implementation of strict controls to
regulate payouts and how the games operate. The Gaming Board of Great Britain
ensures the fair running of casinos and scrutinizes casino personnel and
operators. Of the UK's 116 casinos, 21 are located in London, with the
remainder in major cities and tourist areas.
Almost all countries in continental Europe have casinos.
France has government-regulated casinos in over 170 towns and cities. Spain
legalized casinos in the late 1970s and also allows slot machines in bars and
arcades. In the Netherlands, a government company, Holland Casinos, was
established to operate the casinos, which now exist in ten locations. Greece
has nine casinos, which are privately-run government-allocated franchises.
Belgium's eight casinos remain illegal but are tolerated by the government,
which imposes taxation on them.
In the 1970s casinos were legalized in Australia. They are
run by private operators under franchises granted by the government. Fourteen
casinos now operate in the major cities and Gold Coast resorts, contributing a
$2 billion annually to state revenues.
Canada began opening government-owned casinos in the early
1990s and now has a number of resort casinos that attract tourists, as well as
some smaller provincial casinos catering for the local population.
Although South Africa introduced casino gaming during the
apartheid era, confining it to the so-called "independent
homelands", the demise of apartheid meant that the country had to face up
to the reality of legalizing gaming operations that were formerly not
considered to be within the boundaries of the state. Casino gaming was
recognized in 1994 and a rationalization process, under the Gambling Board,
has ensured that lucrative gaming licenses are equitable distributed
throughout all nine provinces.