Archive for July, 2009

Cockfighting - Gambling in AmericaCockfights are banned throughout most of the world, including Canada and the United States, with the exception of Oklahoma. No European, African, or continental Asian country allows the sport; the only Pacific jurisdictions that permit cockfighting are the Philippines and Guam. Most of the “action” is found in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti. Although banned almost everywhere, the fights are also found in many clandestine locations throughout North America.
Cockfighting dates back to the ancient world. Greeks and Romans bred birds especially for fighting purposes. J. Philip Jones’s history of gaming, Gambling: Yesterday and Today, a Complete History (Jones 1973), tells of a Greek commander who was inspired by two fighting birds on his way to a victorious battle against the Persians in the fifth century b.c. In giving thanks for his triumph, he declared that there would be cockfighting everywhere in a celebration recognizing the victory (Jones 1973, 97). The activity spread throughout Europe.
At first the birds fought on tabletops, but later enclosed pens were used. The Romans brought fighting birds to England, and cockfighting developed into a popular activity there during the seventeenth century. In the American colonies, the cockfight was a regular side attraction at a horse race meeting. As birds are bred, they are closely watched for signs that they could be fighters. The training process is as elaborate as that used for racing horses or dogs.  Each “cockmaster” directs the bird in rituals and practice fights using leather guards over their spurs. Before they are engaged in contests, they may be allowed to remove their spur covers and attack other chickens in order to keep their instincts intact. They are isolated so they can rest and fast before the match to ensure that they are “fresh and ready” for battle.
Betting at the cockfight is usually conducted privately on a one-on-one basis among the players. There are also bookies who will cover the action of many bettors. The heaviest betting is between the owners of the birds, with the loser losing not only money but also his prize fighter. The vicious nature of the fight to the death causes animal protective groups to vigorously oppose the sport. It was banned in England in 1834, and in most U.S. jurisdictions not long afterwards. Clifford Gertz offers a poignant description of the emotions of participation in the cockfight in his essay, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”.

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Chips, Gambling - Gambling in AmericaGambling chips are used in games to represent money being wagered by players. Here the word is used generically and also includes references to gambling checks, tokens, jetons, and plaques. The chips are used to make play more convenient, as well as more routine and more secure.
From the earliest times, it has been felt necessary to have objects that represented wealth wagered, rather than having the actual wealth put forth in the games. Native Americans had very good control over excessive gambling, in that the players in a game would have to physically place the thing being wagered into an area near the place of the game. If they were betting a horse and a saddle, the horse and saddle would be brought to the game. With these rules of engagement, the players would never wager more than they possessed, nor would they incur a debt because of their gambling. The development of money currencies simplified gambling activity considerably.
One of the latent functions of the use of chips in games has been to help the player “pretend” that the game was just a game and not about the risking of real wealth. This self-delusion has led many players into wagering amounts way beyond their means. The introduction of markers and the use of personal checks in exchange for chips has led many players into serious debt situations as a result of gambling. One casino executive applauded the value that chips have given to casinos and game operators, saying that the “guy who invented the chip was a genius” (Sifakis 1990, 65). No one knows who that guy was.
The earliest use of chips for games may have been in ancient Egypt. In the Western world, chips have been used for many centuries. European (French-style) chips were found in the eighteenth-century casinos such as Bad Ems and Wiesbaden. They were engraved in mother-of-pearl and later made of bone or ivory. In nineteenth-century games in the United States, chips were made from other materials. Ivory was used until it became too scarce and too expensive. In the 1880s, clay chips with a shellac finish were developed. A great advance in chip technology came in the 1950s, as plastic became a major component of the chips. Mixed materials were sometimes used with clay and plastic compositions surrounding metal centers for the chips. In the 1980s, the compositions led to multicolored chips of very distinctive appearances that could not only be picked out by the trained eyes of dealers and pit bosses but could also be electronically read to ensure their genuine character.
The first gambling chips in the United States did not have indications of value marked upon them. They could be used interchangeably for low-stakes and high-stakes games, merely by designating their value at the start of a game. These “plain” chips were especially popular in early illegal casinos because they could not be used as evidence if there was to be a police raid. Legitimate casinos soon found a need to control the flow of chips, however, and they did so by distinctively marking the chips with values and also with casino logos. Today, the only unmarked chips are those of different colors that are used by different players at U.S. roulette games in order to indicate which bet belongs to which player.
European (French-style) chips are different from basic U.S. casino chips in two ways. The European chip (called a jeton) is usually of a plastic composition that has a rounded surface and an oval or round shape.  The chips cannot be placed on top of one another but must be spread out to determine their value and to count them. Europeans also use squared plaques for higher denominations—as do some U.S. casinos with substantial play from high rollers. The U.S. chip is invariably circular but has a flat surface. Although European chips of different values vary in size, all U.S. chips are of the same size, with the exception of plaques and some very high-value chips that are larger circles. The U.S. chip can be easily stacked and moved about. Side color markings allow casino personnel and cameras to see their values and check for authenticity. Most of the U.S. chips are the same size as an old silver dollar. Games in the United States move faster than those in Europe, and the stacking chips facilitate game speed.
The value chips in U.S. casinos today are referred to by their colors. A one-dollar chip is white, a five-dollar chip is red, a twenty-five-dollar chip is green, a one-hundred-dollar chip is black, and a pink chip is worth five hundred dollars. The notion that a high roller is a “blue chipper” or that a solid value stock on Wall Street is a “blue chip stock” is apparently a term left over from another day.
U.S. slot machines began using tokens instead of actual coins when the silver dollar started to go out of circulation in the 1960s. The earliest machines used tokens as a way of hiding the fact that they were gambling machines, but law enforcement authorities did not fall for the ruse for long. Federal laws regarding the use of tokens other than official coinage for value transactions were modified so that casinos could have machines accept the tokens. Today, many casinos outside of Nevada accept only tokens for slot play—in machines with coin acceptors. The token-accepting devices have sophisticated mechanisms with comparators that can observe the token shape, size, weight, and metal composition to ensure its validity, for the most part. Slugs or counterfeit tokens and coins are still a problem. The problem is lessened somewhat by the fact that most of the machines have dollar bill acceptors that are gradually replacing coin-in usage for slot and video slots. The players should now have that ultimate reality check each time they put a twenty- or fifty-dollar bill into a machine. They should know they are playing “real money.” Once the bill is in, however, the player starts hitting a button and playing not money but “credits” – the newest gimmick to separate the player from reality.

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Chile permits horse-race and casino gambling as well as lottery games. The Loteria de Concepcion is the oldest lottery still operating. Begun in 1921, it devotes its profits to several charities, including the Red Cross and the Universidad de Concepcion.
The southernmost country on the South American continent, Chile has a population of 11.1 million on 292,258 square miles of land. The country is a strip of land 2,650 miles long and no wider than 225 miles. It is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the high Andes. A variety of climates and terrain appeals to all categories of tourists. Desert beaches, Mediterranean breezes, magnificent glaciers, ski resorts, and mountain grandeur welcome the visitors.  Still the isolated geography restricts the country’s ability to utilize its gambling facilities as a means of attracting outside revenues.

Chile - Gambling in America

Vina del Mar Casino, the largest casino in Chile

The struggle for Chilean national independence from Spain, led by Bernardo O’Higgins, lasted for many years during the first decades of the nineteenth century. When the local forces emerged with political control, they sought to deal severely with the sinful acts that were remnants of the days of Spanish colonial rule. The “sin” of gambling was high on the “hit list.” An 1812 law proclaimed all games to be illegal. The law stated that gambling “compromised, demoralized, prostituted, and ruined” civilian members of society by corrupting the innocent. Gaming was a “genuine crime” and a “detestable occupation”. An 1818 decree by the liberator O’Higgins saw gambling as the “worst scandal”. Cafe owners were subject to fines for permitting games in their establishments. Another decree in 1819 labeled gaming “repulsive” and promised to punish violators of the prohibition to “the full severity of the law” (Cabot et al. 1999, 287–289).
Yet, as the days of independence unfolded, Chilean lawmakers were aware they could not fully suppress old habits from colonial times. In 1847, the national legislature recognized that “people gambled anyway”. Instead of a full prohibition, they opted for controlled legalization by authorizing municipalities to designate areas for gaming. An 1852 statute provided for local councils to grant two-year licenses for casinos. Later in the century, however, all gaming was again made illegal after a new wave of moralism swept over the lawmakers.
Modern casino gaming in Chile dates back to 1913 and the vision of the city leaders of Vina del Mar. This seaside resort community (now a city of 300,000) just north of the major port of Valparaiso successfully drew tourism with its racetrack. Local facilities were inadequate, however, to use tourism to foster growth. Council members debated about creating a lake and reclaiming land from the sea to build a municipal baths center, the balneario. From this debate came the idea of casino gaming. There was no casino at the balneario when it originally opened. Shortly after its opening, the idea of a casino gained momentum. Vina del Mar is only eighty miles from the capital city of Santiago, and its newly developed baths and beaches attracted many urban dwellers. The Vina politicians turned their attention to the lawmakers in the large capital city.
It took until 1924 before the national government decreed a new policy that would allow selected resort cities to establish casinos. In 1928, new legislation specifically designated the creation of the first nationally recognized casino at Vina del Mar. It authorized a new local government corporation to spend up to 14 million pesos on a casino at the oceanfront near the balneario.  The corporation could also select a private concessionaire to operate the casino. The initial concession agreement would last for twenty-five years. It has been renewed several times (Cabot et al. 1999, 286–288).
Casino gross profits were taxed and the proceeds designated for public works. Taxes are now on a scale up to 70 percent of gross gaming win. Of this tax, 30 percent goes for road construction and improvements in the region around Vina del Mar. The remainder goes to the city government to develop tourism facilities. The initial casino, and the three subsequently authorized, also pay a 7 percent gross win tax directly into the national government’s general fund. In 1988, the national government gained 4,005,989,000 pesos (US$20,000,000) from casinos and other gaming (lotteries and horse racing). Entrance fees charged to patrons go directly to the municipal governments.
The national Ministry of Finance provides auditors who regularly visit the casinos. Local government officials conduct all other gaming inspections. The gaming laws and regulations at Vina del Mar and the other locations require the exclusion of certain people from gaming. These include those under twenty-one, those under the influence of alcohol, those with bad behaviors, and persons known (through previous experiences) not to have sufficient funds. Gaming employees and public employees who deal with public funds also may not gamble. Under the law, women cannot gamble without permission of their husbands. Residents of the casino towns can only gamble if they get prior approval from their municipal governments. An anachronism in the national law, which is not enforced, requires that any unaccompanied women must have the written permission of their husbands, or former husbands, if they wish to enter the casino. Nonetheless, all patrons must still show identification and pay an entrance fee as they come into the casino. Foreigners must show their passports. Te Vina del Mar casino has a restaurant and bar facility, but the other casinos do not. Patrons cannot drink in gaming rooms.
The municipality constructed the current buildings at Vina del Mar in 1929 and 1930. On New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1930, the wife of the mayor of Vina del Mar cast a ball into a spinning wheel. A croupier called out “Negro y Ocho” (“black and eight”), and the casino was open.
The casino now draws as many as 2,000 players a day in the summer season. During the high tourist time, the casino has twenty-eight baccarat and punto banco tables, eighteen American roulettes (with two zeros), four blackjack tables, and two craps tables in the main gaming room. The casino gives credit to selected players known to have sufficient means to gamble. They will also cash checks. Complimentaries are limited to restaurant and bar services available within the casino. There are no hotel facilities or complimentaries for rooms or transportation. The casino arranges group tours, but there are no gambling junkets. During the summer season, many players come from Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. In other seasons, most players come from the Santiago region.
The casino has 500 employees. During my visit to the casino in the early 1990s, all the dealers in the main room were men. Women could work only the lower-stakes games in the other rooms. The entrance fee is 800 pesos (US$2.50). The casino waives the fee for persons wishing only to observe the art collections regularly displayed in a gallery and hallways or to attend events in the 700-seat showroom.
National laws designated a casino for Arica in 1965. Arica, 1,100 miles north of Santiago, is a hot desert city of 150,000 residents located beside the ocean and near the Peruvian border. Its sandy beaches attract many tourists. In 1969, a casino was approved for Puerto Varas, a town of 25,000 that is 600 miles south of Santiago. Puerto Varas is on a beautiful lake and provides tourists access to magnificent glaciers farther to the south.  The beach resorts of Coquimbo, an oceanside city of 75,000 that is 300 miles north of Santiago, won approval for a casino in 1976. In 1990, casinos were also approved for Pucoa, Puerto Natales, and Iquiqe.
The municipal governments own the casinos and contract with private organizations to operate them. All concessions, except in Vina del Mar, run for five years. The concession for the casino at Vina del Mar runs for twenty years. It was renewed in 1989. The concession agreements set the rules of the casino, the games, limits, and the taxation arrangements. Casino operators must also provide entertainment, shows, and other cultural events for the community. There have been continuing discussions regarding the establishment of new casinos in new locations.

 

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Cheating Schemes - Gambling in AmericaCheating at games is part of the history of gambling enterprise. The terms gambler and riverboat gambler have rightly or wrongly become closely associated with dishonesty over time. Jewish courts would not recognize the testimony of a gambler because his veracity was always suspect. The Gamblers, in the Time-Life series on the Old West, asserts that 99 percent of the riverboat gamblers cheated at one time or another (Time-Life, Inc. 1978, 61). Graphics of Old West poker games invariably show pistols on the table, reminders to one and all that cheating was to be frowned upon.
Carnival games and private games are most susceptible to cheating, as there is inadequate outside supervision. Licensing authorities for casinos, however, usually mandate that surveillance systems be installed and activated during play. Security rooms have monitors, and personnel watch play as monitors record action. Usually videotapes are kept for a period of time (week or month) in case any question arises over the integrity of the games. State racing authorities are always present at tracks to make sure that the racing is legitimate, to the extent that they can.
Customer service begins with the “win-win” game: Winners talk and losers walk. That is an essential ingredient for the marketing and advertising of gambling meccas such as Las Vegas. Winners love to tell of their Vegas triumphs, whereas losers tout the wonderful weather and bargain rates for slop food at the buffets or for their rooms. Everyone wins, and only the winners talk about gambling. This great deal fails when players feel they are cheated or exploited. For the latter reason, it is in the self-interest of casinos to minimize and mitigate the volume and effects of compulsive gambling. But they must also make sure that the games are honest. A loser who feels that the games were not honest will be very willing to tell the world about it, whereas other losers are quite content knowing that no one else knows the results of their gambling activity.
Indeed, the games in Las Vegas are honest. There could be no Las Vegas if the games were not honest. Certainly, the gambling city would not be able to attract 33 million visitors each year. But gambling games have always attracted persons who would want them to be something other than honest. Cheating has been perpetrated by parties running the games, and also by players.
There are many forms of cheating. The instruments of gambling have been manipulated so that they do not give honest results. Dice are sometimes weighted and shaved so that certain numbers will fall. Shaved dice have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years. Crooked dice can also be weighted to influence their falls. Metal pieces have been put into dice, and tables have been magnetized to affect falls as well. One reason that dice are of a clear plastic is so that they can be seen through. A clear die will also reveal if the numbering on the cube is correct.
Card decks can also be altered. Extra aces can be slipped into a game. More likely, however, is that a cheater can misshuffle and misdeal, taking cards from the bottom of the deck or middle of the deck in order to help or hurt a particular player. Quick hands can result in the placement of cards where the dealer can retrieve them at will and deal them without discovery – of course, then there are those pistols at the table. Other cheaters at card games can become adept at peeking at cards about to be dealt, or they can have confederates peeking over the shoulders of their opponents and sending them signals. It has often been said that if you have been at a private poker game for an hour and you are still wondering who the patsy (victim) is, it is you.
Roulette wheels have been magnetized to stop at certain numbers. Bias wheels have also been constructed not to cycle evenly. Dealers or others can also use techniques (from friction to electric stoppers) to cause the wheel to end its spin on certain numbers. The big wheel (wheel of fortune) is quite exposed and vulnerable to being nudged by a foot, hand, or one’s hind quarters.
The Ping-Pong balls that have been used in devices producing numbers for bingo games and lotteries can also be manipulated. In one case, balls were weighted down with lead paint so that other balls would be selected – hence, producing certain numbers for the prizes.  Although that case was detected, one can certainly wonder if such cheating had not occurred many times before and since.
Number randomizers in modern machine-driven games – slot machines, keno games, computerized bingo games – can be manipulated if one can get access to them. State casino regulators carry devices that can quickly check if the chip in a slot machine or keno machine is identical to the one that has been registered to ensure fully random play. One of the agents of the Nevada Gaming Control Board who was given the responsibility for inspecting the chips at the factory saw his opportunity, however, to be a dishonest person. He took a chip and reprogrammed it to distribute numbers in a certain sequence if a machine was played with a certain pattern of multiple coins in on consecutive plays. He enlisted confederates to play the machines. Fortunately for the regulators, when his friends won the big prizes, they refused to identify themselves (as big winners must do for tax purposes), and their behavior revealed that they were not playing honestly. Of course, one thing led to another and then another, and the scheme was found out. Unfortunately, the culprit had probably gotten away with his cheating for some time before he was caught.
Ironically, the same regulator had broken another case in which American Coin, a major slot route company, was revealed to have programmed its poker machines so as not to allow royal flushes if a player put in maximum coins for a play. The discovery resulted in the company’s immediately losing its license. Before a criminal trial of company officials took place, an employee who was to be a key witness was murdered. This happened in the 1990s, and Las Vegas residents shuddered at the realization that the old days had not all gone away.
Regular casino chips are also subject to counterfeiting. As a chip can represent up to $100 in value (or more), casinos must be very vigilant against this possibility. Special companies make chips that can be observed by detectors that can verify their legitimacy. Slugs have always been used in slot machines. Modern machines have comparators, which can detect the size, weight, and metal composition of coins or slot tokens to make sure they are proper. Nonetheless, as a token may cost only twenty cents to make, but might represent one dollar (or as much as $500), thieving persons will always seek to find a perfect (or workable) match for a machine.
Throughout history, many ways have been used to manipulate slot machines. The handles of old mechanical machines could be pulled with a certain rhythm, and reels could be stopped by design. After a cheater began giving lessons on how to do this, machine companies quickly retrofitted the machines with new handles.
Other simple, silly-sounding schemes were used to compromise machines. A hole would be drilled into a coin, and a string attached to it. The coin would then be dropped into the machine, and after play was activated, the coin would be pulled back out to be played over and over again. Slot cheats would also use spoonlike devices to reach up into the machine from the hopper tray in order to make coins flow. Other schemes involved groups that would distract casino security agents as they opened a machine or drilled holes in the machine in order to affect the spinning of the reels.
Probably the most prevalent type of cheating still going on in casinos is past posting. Quite simply, a player will make his bet after the play has stopped – after the dice have been rolled, or the cards dealt. Where a dealer is trying to work a busy table, he can be naturally or purposely distracted as the cheater slips the extra chip on the winning number. If done very quickly, past posting can go undetected. A suspicious dealer or games supervisor can quickly ask officials in the security room to review their videotapes to check what has happened.
Much of the gambling cheating at casinos involves collusion between dealers and dishonest players. The simple technique of paying off a loser will work if there are no supervision and no camera checks. Dealers and players may also work together by using false caps that are placed over chips. A player will play a stack of white chips (one dollar) covered by a cap that makes them look like black chips ($100 value). The dealer will pay off bets as if the higher amount was bet, and the cameras may not catch the deception.
Another kind of cheating is not cheating of the game, but rather cheating of government authorities. Unauthorized or unlicensed owners will seek to get their share of the profits by “skimming”. Legitimate owners may also try to “skim” profits in order to avoid their taxation obligations. One way they do this is to give credit to certain players who then simply fail to pay off their debts. Another quite ingenious means of “skimming” at one casino involved the use of miscalibrated scales that displayed the wrong value of coins when they were weighed. A thousand dollars in coins was weighed and declared to be $800, and the owners put the extra $200 in their pockets, while they paid taxes on only $800 in profits.
There are as many techniques for surveillance of cheating as there are techniques for cheating; nonetheless, the cheating will continue as long as some see an opportunity. Casinos work together and trade photographs, names, and descriptions of known cheaters and then ban them from the casinos. The State of Nevada also keeps a black book list of excluded persons.
In horse racing, cheating can be as simple as collusion among jockeys to have a certain horse win. In other situations, ringers are used. A good horse is slipped into a race disguised as a horse with a bad record so that the payoff odds are much better. Horses may be drugged for better performances as well. Horsemen may have their steed run slowly in a few races to establish it as a loser. Then when it gets long odds, they bet heavily on it and have it run out at its full potential. There is the story of the horse owner who told his jockey to hold back during a race. The jockey did so and the horse finished fifth, out of the wagering and the prize money. The owner then asked the jockey if the horse had anything left in him at the end of the race, and if the jockey thought he could have beaten the four horses in front of him. “Sure,” said the jockey. “The horse had much left in him, and had I turned him loose around the corner, we could have sprinted by the four horses.” The owner thanked him for the good ride and indicated they would run against the same field in a few weeks, and he was sure the horse could win. The jockey then revealed the truth. “Sir, I’m sure we can beat the four horses that were ahead of us, but we are going to have a lot of trouble with several of the horses that were behind us.” The trouble with cheating is that it is not just a game for one cheater.

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The following account is based upon my visit to an El Paso, Texas, charity Casino Night on 15 January 2000. It would have been the seventy-first birthday of legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Members of the El Paso chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, a predominantly African American social fraternity, were celebrating. They were serving as volunteer dealers and croupiers at the North East El Paso Optimist Club’s Casino Night. The players were a multiracial group that would have made Dr. King proud. There were whites (some affluent, but mostly working class), Latinos (Hispanics from Mexico and the United States), Native Americans, and African Americans. They were of all age groups, although most seemed to be over fifty, or even sixty. There were also at least a dozen children, preteens and youngsters in their early teens, in the Optimist Hall.

Casino Night on the Town - Gambling in America

Children play freely at a charity casino event attended by the editor in El Paso, Texas.

The twelve Alpha Phi Alpha volunteers were selling their services as dealers and were loaning their equipment – tables, cards, chuck-a-luck cage – to the Optimist Club in order to raise money for college scholarships for young African Americans. They charged $700 to run six blackjack tables, one poker table, a craps table, and a poker table. The North East Optimist Club cleared another $2,000 or more for its work with youth. Pictures of scout troops, Little League sports teams, summer camps, and fishing trips were in a case on the wall. At least one of the players, a thirteen-year-old, was in his scout uniform. A six- or seven-year-old girl was sitting next to her mother, and both were playing blackjack hands. The mother seemed to know the Optimist sponsors of the game.
The approximately 100 players had paid $20 each to enter the gambling hall. They began to gather at 6 p.m., and gambling started at 7:30 p.m. They were given a beef brisket meal that would have cost $6.95 down the street at the Village Inn. The meal was put together by Optimist volunteers (members and spouses) at one-third that cost. The persons entering the hall were also given $10,000 in casino cash in addition to their meal. The “cash” could be exchanged for chips, the smallest value of which was $1,000. In other words, the players were sold single lowest-value chips at a cost of approximately $15 for ten ($20 minus the cost of the meal), or $1.50 each. The players were also permitted to purchase additional chips at a cost of $5 for $10,000, or $ .50 each. One man was observed writing a $50 check for $100,000 in casino money, or 1,000 “$1,000” chips. Later in the evening – the gambling went beyond 10 p.m. – an Optimist volunteer was giving bonus chips to anyone spending more than $100 (real money) for extra chips.
During the gambling session, Optimist members were drawing numbered ticket stubs for door prizes. The biggest prize was a round trip air ticket to Las Vegas, Nevada. Other prizes were for meals at local restaurants and free bowling games and movie tickets. At the end of the gambling session, the players gathered for an auction of prizes. The money they won at gambling could now be offered in bids for their prizes. The biggest prize was a 1999 model television set, probably carrying a retail value of $300. Other prizes included four automobile tires of similar retail value, as well as smaller appliances, tool sets, and various kitchen dishes. Organizers of the event indicated that merchants had donated the prizes or sold them to the Optimists for cost. They could also discount the full retail value from business revenues for taxation purposes.
The players were gambling by any definition of the term. They were advancing something of value – real money – in order to make wagers at games of chance. As a result of the play at the games of chance, they were able to claim prizes that had values greatly in excess of the money they had individually wagered. They also had participated in raffles that involved buying a ticket, having numbers drawn by chance methods, and winning prizes of greater value than the cost of tickets.
The games were played in the same manner as they would be played in a Las Vegas casino, albeit hands were dealt more slowly, and the dealers advised players on the game rules as well as expectations for certain kinds of play. (They generally advised players to assume that cards to be dealt at blackjack would likely be ten-value cards—something that is true 31 percent of the time). The blackjack cards were dealt in the same sequence as in Las Vegas, and players were allowed to split and double down. The dealer hit on sixteen and held on seventeen. A four-deck shoe was used. The craps rules were identical to casino craps, and the three-dice game of chuck-a-luck was played as it used to be played when it was popular in Las Vegas several decades ago. All these games were clearly house-banked gambling games. In the poker game, the dealer competed with the players on an even odds basis, as his hand was but one of the several played, and the best hand won the pot played by all the players. The dealer contributed to the pot the same as the players did.
The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity ran about one game a month through the year in El Paso and also in nearby New Mexico. They would often have ten blackjack tables, as well as poker, chuck-a-luck, craps, and roulette—for a service cost of $1,000. In the summer, they ran their own game and drew over 300 players. Their biggest month was May, when they ran games for high school graduation classes. The president of the fraternity indicated that twenty years ago they had a lawyer go closely over all the rules in Texas to ensure that everything being done was legal. He certainly agreed that the games were casino games and that they were gambling games. The event was clearly advertised in the El Paso newspaper as a Casino Night. Some may question whether it was legal in all aspects, but there can be no doubt that the state of Texas permitted the gambling games at the event. They were publicly advertised, and the public was invited in. An armed law enforcement officer from the police force of the city of El Paso was present at the event from the beginning to the end. Auxiliary police personnel were also present at all times. A former El Paso city councilman was prominently present, smiling and shaking hands with players and dealers. The Alpha Phi Alpha’s president indicated that there was no local or state license or fee for the event.
The auction at the end of the session added an extra element to the gambling that is not present in other casinos. The players would have to assess their relative wealth vis-a-vis other players in order to decide how to bid. It is quite likely that only the tires and television carried money values higher than the money values of the amounts wagered by most individual players. At the end of Las Vegas games, winners and losers are clearly identified, and players need not go through another gambling session in order to find out if they are winners.

 

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Casino Nights are also called Las Vegas Nights, Monte Carlo Nights, Millionaire Nights, and other such names in various states and provinces. Although rules for operations of the games vary, the basic elements of Casino Nights are the same in the more than twenty-five states and provinces that permit the events. Nearly $2 billion goes from gamblers to various causes as a result of these events each year. Data are very sparse on Casino Nights, as many are governed entirely by local regulations, with perhaps only a general permissive statute on the state books. Very few states have any record keeping on games revenues.
The existence of Charity Nights gambling and similar gambling has been considered to be “permitted” casino gambling for the purposes of negotiating Class III casino gambling compacts for Native American casinos in many states. These states include Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, and Washington.

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Casino Employees - Gambling in AmericaWell over 400,000 persons work in the casino properties of the United States. Over half of these are in Nevada and Atlantic City facilities where casinos are attached to very large hotel complexes. Even nonhotel casinos, however, have large numbers of employees. Casino resorts are labor-intensive enterprises. For instance, one blackjack table will require the labor of five or six dealers, one and one-half supervisors, and one-half of a pit boss (assuming a pit of six tables.) Line authority extends upward from a dealer, to a game supervisor who will watch two or three tables, to a pit boss, to a shift manager, to a casino manager, to a general manager. There are also many other important jobs on the casino floor. Slot machines require attendants and technicians. There are drink service personnel (where jurisdictions permit drinking on the floor) and change personnel who furnish coins to slot machine players, although their role has lessened with dollar bill accepters on most machines. There are also change booth personnel who sell both coinage and casino chips, and there are the casinos cage and casino security. There are accounting departments and marketing departments behind the scenes.
Traditionally, persons working the games received very little pre-job training. Now, however, many complete courses at private training schools, at community colleges, or within the casinos. As the labor situation has tightened, casinos try to make the entry process as easy as possible, given the strict demands for casino integrity. In New Jersey and some other jurisdictions, the gaming employees must all be licensed. In Nevada, however, full licensing is required only for key employees or those above the pit boss level. Dealers must obtain “sheriff cards” that ensure they do not have a disqualifying criminal record. In several jurisdictions, strict licensing requirements have disqualified many lower economic status applicants for jobs, making public policies of trying to employ the unemployable very difficult to realize.
Casino workers operate in an atmosphere of great pressure. First of all, while the learning curve may be of short duration for a job as a dealer, the job involves several skills that many people do not have. Of course, blackjack dealers have to be able to count to twenty-one. But it is not just counting: It is constant quick counting of hand after hand while keeping track of bets, shuffling cards, keeping an even disposition, and maintaining the integrity of the table; all of this while being watched constantly by a hidden camera that records every move.  Moreover, keeping an even disposition is not always easy, as players who lose money can be quite rude. Even nice players can fill the atmosphere with cigarette smoke, and alcohol flows more freely than may be desirable. Breaks do not occur often enough, but when they do, it may be in an atmosphere where drug use is prevalent and cigarette smoking is almost universal. Meals are taken “on the run.”
Along with these difficulties, the dealers are subject to casino policies (in Nevada and several other jurisdictions) mandating that they can be fired at will. A new pit boss may come in at any time and decide he or she has to give a dealer’s job to someone as a favor. The result is, one dealer has to be fired. No cause need be given, especially if the dealer is a white male (that is, not a member of a protected class). The compensation situation also exacerbates the pressure-filled environment of dealing. Dealers in Nevada receive little more than a minimum wage with a good benefits package. Most of their compensation comes from tips that are distributed to the dealer staff each day. The tips can fluctuate greatly from day to day, as the business volumes of most casinos are not uniform throughout the year. The tip situation has also led to a high degree of surveillance of dealers by Internal Revenue Service officials, making life even more uncomfortable.
The fluctuations and uncertainty about tips make it difficult for most dealers to gain good credit ratings. They tend not to become homeowners, and they tend to have overall low job satisfaction scores on surveys. Two Las Vegas sociologists found in a survey that 86 percent of the dealers reported that they “never knew when they might be fired,” and 80 percent said they would rather be working someplace else. Nearly four in five saw themselves working in another job within five years, and three in five saw “no future” in dealing; 69 percent found it a boring job; 70 percent disliked the lifestyle of their job; and 68 percent felt they were less happy than workers in other jobs (Frey and Carns 1987, 38). Unfortunately, the money from tips in good casinos makes their overall compensation packages quite lucrative, and few find the initiative to give up their jobs for better jobs that might require, at least at first, a reduction of their income.
The tip system varies from casino to casino. Only a rare casino in Nevada will let dealers keep their individual tips. In almost all casinos tips are pooled. In some places, for instance the Mirage, the pool consists of every dealer of every game for the entire day. In other places, such as Caesars, the tip pool goes to dealers on particular pits of games for their particular shift on one day. The different methods of tip distribution can cause wide differences in compensation, as certain games and pits attract better (more affluent) players, as do certain shifts and days of play. An example of the differentials was offered when a billionaire gambler from Australia made two visits to Las Vegas. On each occasion, he made a $100,000 tip for the blackjack dealers – actually, he played $50,000 for the dealer. He won both times. At Caesars, each blackjack dealer for the shift was given $300 in tips as a result. When the exercise was repeated at the Mirage, all dealers of all games for the day received a cut, and the individual result was a $110 tip.
In many jurisdictions of the world, casino dealers are unionized. Many dealers with unions have gone on strike. This has happened in Winnipeg and Windsor, Canada; in Spa, Belgium; and in casinos in southern France; this is not the case in Las Vegas. The leading union, the Culinary Union, organized all the other nonmanagement workers in the casinos and the hotels, and they agreed that they would leave dealers alone. The Nevada casinos have firmly established the notion that they need direct control over workers in order to maintain tight security at the casinos. Dealers are subject to drug and lie detector tests, at least at the hiring stage.
Supervisory personnel in the casinos – pit bosses and casino managers—have general responsibilities for monitoring the flow of the games and the flow of money in and out of the games.  They also are the key casino employees with the responsibility for ensuring that the top players receive complimentary services. They work with hosts to ensure that good players get free rooms, free transportation, free meals, show tickets, and other “services” that may be appropriate—that is, from a casino economics standpoint. The pit boss is responsible for ensuring that the high-roller player is actually making the wagers that he or she is obligated to make in order to qualify for the free services.
Change personnel for slot players are not as prevalent as they were in the past. Much of their job function has been automated. Where they do exist, they are usually the lowest of the low among regular casino employees. Shills, persons paid to sit at tables and essentially pretend they are playing, are the really lowest, but they are not regular employees. Change persons are still very much needed, as the majority of the casino wins (even on the Strip) are from machine gamblers, and without change persons they lose most of the human contact that a casino can give them. Change persons and other slot personnel are necessary as ambassadors to the group that is collectively the best-playing group in the casino.
The work situation in casinos varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Las Vegas, with the onslaught of many new properties, good treatment of dealers and others is essential if the casino is to be successful. Labor is in such demand that firings without cause have become much more rare. Enlightened management is also learning a corollary to the golden rule of good customer service: “Treat your employees the way you would like your employees to treat the customer”.

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Casino - Gambling in AmericaA casino is a singular location where gambling games are played. The word casino can be modified with many adjectives narrowing its scope. In this encyclopedia, attention is focused upon government-recognized or legal casinos, ones authorized by law, and ones that share their revenues with public treasuries through commission fees or taxation. Casinos considered here also have permanence. They are places where games are played on a regular basis as distinguished from places that offer only occasional gambling events, such as Las Vegas Nights. A casino operation is also one in which the house establishment is an active participant in the games. It participates as a player (e.g., in house-banked games), or it conducts player-banked games by furnishing house dealers and using house equipment. Again, a casino is more than a mere place where independent players can conduct their own games, as they did, for instance, on Mississippi riverboats in the nineteenth century.
A person studying gambling casinos as I have done over the past twenty years must be wary of other uses of the word casino. In a generic sense, the word casino means “a small house” (from the Italian casa, meaning “house,” and ino, meaning “small”) or room in a house that is “used for social amusement” (according to the tenth edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). From other dictionaries, we can find casinos identified as “Italian summer villas,” “brothels,” and “social clubs.” The word also means “dancehall.” The large casino on the southern California resort island of Catalina is a movie house. I made several inquiries in Santiago, Chile, in search of a regulatory authority for gambling “casinos.” Admittedly, I had trouble with the Spanish language, but I had the word pronunciation down perfectly. In any event, I kept being referred from one government office to another. At the end of my journey, I found myself in offices outside a large cafeteria for government employees. Indeed, I had found the “national casino”.

Perelada Casino

The Perelada Casino in Catyluna Spain.  The casino has been built into a fourteenth-century castle.

In order to distinguish their gambling casinos from other casinos, the Spanish (of Spain) call their casinos casinos de juegos or “casinos of games.” In Germany, the gambling casinos are called Spielbanken (“play banks”). (Perhaps too many had been getting requests from visitors from Italy for certain nongambling services).
A real casino should have some distinction from places that merely have a side room for games within a larger establishment devoted to other activities. The Las Vegas Supermarket casino is really a supermarket with machine gambling; in smaller stores with machines, the machines can provide the dominant flows of revenue for the establishment. The gambling area that is a casino is a focal point for social activity wherever it is located.
The first gambling casinos appeared in ancient historical times, probably across the vast Eurasian land mass. The record of Asian gambling halls of the distant past is rather incomplete. It is known, however, that Greeks and Romans of the privileged classes traveled to beach resorts or resorts that were adjacent to natural spas and mineral waters with health-giving powers. Today’s casino resorts at Spa, Bad Aachen, and Trier were also Roman gambling centers. Roman authorities actually taxed the wagering activity of these resorts. During the Middle Ages, gambling flourished at these same places and also at houses for overnight stays along the roads traveled by the commercial and the privileged elites.
Venice became one of the first sites for a government-authorized casino in the 1600s. In 1626, the government gave permission for the Il Ridotto (the Redoubt) to have games, provided it paid a tax on its winnings. Part of the rationale for granting what was at first a monopoly casino franchise was the fact that the government was having a hard time controlling many private operators. It was hoped that they would lose their patrons to the “legal” house. The Il Ridotto then did what many “high-roller” houses do now—it protected the privacy of the players. Indeed, the players all wore carnival masks as they made their wagers. Unfortunately, this practice allowed many cheats to ply their trades without fear of easy discovery. The Spa casino in present-day Belgium reopened in the early eighteenth century, as did casinos at Bad Ems, Weisbaden, Bad Kissingen, and Baden Baden. Organized play at various houses near the
Palais Royal in Paris also flourished. The nineteenth century saw a great proliferation of casinos across Europe. The most prominent developers of the century were the Blanc Brothers, Louis and Francois. They started games at the Palais Royal and then moved to Bad Homburg, where they managed the house until the Prussian government banned gambling in the 1850s. The Blancs followed opportunity and accepted an invitation to take over a failing facility in Monaco, and they developed it into what is even today the world’s most famous casino, the one at Monte Carlo.

New Caesar’s Tower

The New Caesar’s Tower on the Las Vegas Strip.

The entry on European casinos (see The European Casino) provides a look at reasons why European gambling failed to maintain a leadership role in world gambling into the twentieth century. The 1900s instead saw the central interest in casino gambling shift to the Western Hemisphere and especially the United States. Illegal houses in cities and resorts such as Richard Canfield’s first drew attention, and then Nevada came on the scene, where Las Vegas has come to dominate the world casino scene for more than fifty years.
European halls remain, and many newer major casinos have come to be established in a large number of the countries of the world; however, the model – the yardstick - for analyzing all casinos in the world today is found in Las Vegas.  (It may be that I have a parochial bias toward the “hometown” that I have adopted, along with 90 percent of the other local residents!)
There is a wide variety of casinos in Las Vegas. They cover just about all the types of casinos found on the world scene, save the exclusive private membership casinos of England and some European jurisdictions. The Las Vegas casinos must all be open to the public, and no admission charges are permitted at the doors to the gambling rooms—indeed, if you could find such doors they would be open all of the time. There are several categories of casinos in Las Vegas. First, there is the major resort hotel casino that caters to patrons from all over the world. Some of these properties include the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace, Flamingo Hilton, Mirage, and the MGM Grand. Second, some resort hotels seek convention business from business personnel. Two such major properties are the Venetian and the Las Vegas Hilton. A third category consists of other Strip casinos that market more to a middle-class crowd that seeks a reasonably priced (even low-cost) resort vacation with all the trappings of gambling and Las Vegas sights. The Imperial Palace, Ballys, Riviera, and Sahara fill this bill, as well as the Excalibur and the Circus Circus, two establishments that have made a success out of niche marketing to vacationers who want to bring their children with them (see the section “The Family that Gambles Together” in Appendix A). Fourth, there are several smaller downtown casinos, including the Union Plaza and Lady Luck, that appeal to a drive-in audience from California and Arizona, and they keep the customers coming back with low-cost facilities. Fifth, the California Hotel focuses its marketing efforts on Asian-Americans, especially those living in Hawaii.
On the edge of the city and in the suburbs there is a genre of casinos that seek the patronage of local residents. They have very large gambling floors, but not many hotel rooms (they have to meet a minimum requirement of 200 or 300 rooms). They emphasize machine gambling and bingo. They offer good food at low prices, as well as movie theaters, bowling alleys, dance floors, and even ice rinks; anything that will keep the people coming back. Many rely on construction workers and senior citizens to keep them going.  They actually run buses to senior living centers. Then there are smaller slot joints and a very wide array of bars and taverns that rely on the money from machine gambling (they are allowed fifteen machines) in order to be profitable. Convenience stores, liquor stores, drug stores, restaurants, and even grocery stores also have machines, although it would be somewhat of a stretch to call these places casinos. They do, however, come close to matching the atmosphere of some of the casinos in the small towns of Colorado and in Deadwood, South Dakota.
There are Native American casinos on the periphery of Las Vegas. Across the country the Native American casinos and the riverboat casinos mimic the types of casinos in Las Vegas. Most of them are similar to the casinos that go after the local residents. They also expect their patrons to drive to the casinos many times for repeat visits. A few may seek to become vacation resorts, but it so rarely happens that none come to mind. As California tribes develop their casinos under the provisions of Proposition 1A, however, many will strive to become resort properties where guests spend more than one day at play. This might occur in some selected locations such as Palm Springs. For the reasonably near future, however, the big casino-hotel resorts offering full vacation opportunities will continue to be found in Las Vegas and other Nevada sites, such as Reno and Lake Tahoe.

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Gambling enterprises, both legal and illegal, have long been considered to be integrally involved with criminal elements in various ways. In recent decades, concerns have revolved around the use of casino organizations as banking institutions that could aid criminals in what is called money laundering. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, with amendments; the Money Laundering Act of 1986; and the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994 address the problem of money laundering.
Money laundering involves various activities. One is simply changing one set of cash bills for another set of cash bills. Many criminal enterprises rely upon patronage of ordinary people at the street level – purchasers of drugs, illegal bettors, customers of prostitutes. Such people pay for their products and services with small denomination billsones, fives, tens, and twenties. As a result, criminal enterprises have very large quantities of paper money. It is difficult to carry the money, and it is especially hard to transport the money outside of the country in order to put it into secret bank accounts in other countries. When a bank or a casino willingly changes many small bills for a few large bills, they may be laundering money for criminal elements.
Laundering also occurs when financial institutions convert the criminals’ cash deposits into different forms – traveler’s checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders. The institutions may also assist laundering efforts by initiating a series of wire transfers of money to foreign bank accounts or to other peoples’ accounts in a series of transactions that make it difficult for law enforcement to identify the true source of the money.
Casinos are also vulnerable for use by criminals who simply wish to establish a legitimate source for their funds so that they may use them openly. Theoretically, it would be very easy for a criminal to come to a casino, change cash into casino chips, wager with a confederate at roulette (one playing black, the other red), and then claim all the chips they end up with as income – keeping record only of their wins and not of their losses. If a casino would cooperate in such a ruse, the criminals would be very happy to let the casino have its 5 percent edge in the game (both players would of course lose when the roulette ball fell into the zero or double zero slot of the wheel.
In the case above, the gamblers (criminals) are happy to pay income tax on their winnings, freeing them from the fear of being subject to investigation from the Internal Revenue Service. The situation is even better in Canadian and European casinos, where no income tax is imposed upon winnings. All the “laundry” operation needs is a verification that the money was “won” at the casino. When I asked the manager of a large casino in Germany about the possibilities of money laundering in his casino, he smiled and quietly said, “that is a service we provide.” He was happy to have the player’s action, as the casino could not lose. Today, however, casinos in the United States can lose by laundering criminal money. They can be fined or closed down (Burbank 2000).
In 1970, Congress enacted the Bank Secrecy Act. Initially the act applied to traditional bank-type institutions only. Banks were required to report to the U.S. Treasury Department any single-day transactions that involved $10,000 in cash. The bank was required to be vigilant and to track smaller transactions to make sure that a single party was not violating the law through multiple transactions. In 1985, regulations of the Treasury Department extended the provisions of the act to the casino industry. Casinos with over $1 million in annual revenues had to abide by the reporting and other requirements. In 1986, the Money Laundering Act criminalized violations of the procedure. The act specified a very large number of criminal activities that generated money that would likely be laundered. If any person attempted to launder any such money through a bank or casino, that person would be committing a criminal offense. Anyone knowingly assisting such a person in moving that money would also be guilty of a criminal action. In 1994, the Money Laundering Suppression Act extended the provisions of the acts to Native American casinos.
The banks and other financial institutions, Native American casinos, and commercial casinos in all states except Nevada make reports to the U.S. Treasury Department. The state of Nevada made a plea to Treasury officials to allow state casino regulators to implement the requirements. Accordingly, Nevada gaming agents spend over 20,000 hours a year collecting reports, checking records, visiting casino cages, and investigating complaints regarding cash transactions. Nevada authorities have also levied much higher fines for violations of the procedures than have been levied elsewhere. One casino had to pay fines in excess of $1.5 million for multiple infractions discovered by state agents.
The casinos must track all gamblers to ensure that none is exchanging over $10,000 in a day without making a full report involving positive identification of the gambler. Reports must be given to authorities within fifteen days of the transaction. They must also keep records of every transaction over $3,000 so that they can later assess whether a single-day transaction of $10,000 has been made. The requirements apply to bringing cash into the casino for any reason—to buy chips, deposit money for later play, make cash wagers. They also apply to money coming out of the casino – as prizes, withdrawals from deposits, cashed checks. Nevada casinos are also required to report events involving suspicious activities by players or by employees.
The money laundering laws, as amended, require all casino organizations to conduct special training for all employees to ensure that they are familiar with reporting and recording requirements. They also must have an accounting plan to conduct the required activity.

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Caribbean Casinos - Gambling in AmericaMany Caribbean jurisdictions have casino gaming facilities. Lotteries are also in operation on larger islands that have major population concentrations. Casino gambling is offered in approximately twenty jurisdictions. Major events in the expansion of casinos in the region include the closing of casino operations in other places—a crackdown on illegal casinos in the United States in the 1950s, Castro’s Cuban revolution in 1959, London’s casino reforms in 1968. Each of the casino locations follows different regulations for casinos with different taxation structures and different enforcement policies. Overall, it might be suggested that there is considerable laxity in regulation. A tradition of laissez-faire oversight has been generated by the fact that casino gaming was, in several places, initiated by operators from other jurisdictions—such as Cuba and early Nevada—who had operated with limited enforcement in those jurisdictions. Also, the purpose of gaming in the Caribbean region has been to draw in tourists whose economic activity outside the casinos provided the greatest level of benefits to the jurisdiction—greater than could be provided by direct taxation. Casinos are seen as an added attraction that fills an entertainment void for the majority of tourists, particularly in evening hours. The tourists come for beach attractions and occupy daytime hours outside the casinos. The nature of their travels suggests that they have only limited hours for gaming activity. The relatively high expenses for hotel rooms and transportation also provide impediments to the development of the region as a place for mass crowds of gamblers.
Although efforts to establish casinos persist in the noncasino jurisdictions of the region, several factors seriously obstruct the opportunities for successful casinos. One factor is government stability. Financial institutions that are necessary for capital investments generally lack confidence in the island locations owing to traditional and ongoing political problems. As governments change, taxation policies also change, adding to the instability of business conditions. A second problem is that most of the jurisdictions do not have formal specialized gaming control boards. In most cases, a minister of finance oversees gambling along with his or her other duties. Without specialized government regulation, casino management controls the honesty of games. The managers also control the size of the bank—how much money they have on hand. Cases of cheating against the players or failing to pay off wins have occurred. A third difficulty arises from a lack of a coherent policy on development of the casino industry. Governments (or politicians) may greedily desire the fees that come with licenses for casinos, and accordingly, they may license too many facilities. Markets can be saturated, making profits very difficult for most casinos.
Several of the island nations are newly independent, and as such, the local populations resent the notion of having foreign entrepreneurs on their soil. They may resent any suggestions that the casino operators offer regarding the manner in which the casino conducts business. This situation has an impact on the labor forces available for the resorts. Jurisdictions may require that hires be taken from a native workforce that might be totally inadequate for the tasks at hand. Many of the populations have been agriculturally based, and commercial work habits, such as following daily work schedules, have been lacking. This means that the casinos have to engage in conducting long training sessions. Also, it may be very difficult for a casino operated by “foreigners” to fire or discipline local workers if they are inefficient or even if they are dishonest. The concept of manana has become very much a part of some operations, causing customer service goals to trail the recreational interests of the employees. Sometimes resentment against foreign casino owners is transformed into resentment against the customers.

El Rancho Casino, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Another factor that causes some difficulties to gaming operatives in the Caribbean region is currency exchange. This is usually overcome by having all gambling transactions conducted in dollars. Problems may then be posed by government policies restricting exportation of dollars (either in player wins or owner’s profits). Import duties can be overwhelming to the casinos during construction and furnishing phases of start-ups.
The casinos encounter marketing problems, as costs can be very high. The costs of travel are high owing to a lack of direct flights into major U.S. cities; all tourist products are expensive, as they must be imported.  Moreover, tourism is seasonal in all the jurisdictions. One additional seasonal difficulty is presented by severe (and potentially catastrophic) weather at the end of the summer season each year. The weather problems only exacerbate the inadequacies of island infrastructure—airports, roads, water, and power supplies.
All the above factors make casino gambling a risky commercial business in most of the Caribbean region. Nonetheless, many operators seem willing to give gambling a try in most places where it is legal. One exception seems to be the Virgin Islands, which legalized casinos as a result of an election in 1995. No company has presented an application for a license in this new “wide-open” venue. The intervening years have witnessed two major hurricanes that have dampened investor optimism.
The Virgin Islands are at the eastern end of the Greater Antilles. On the western end, Cuba has no casinos, and Jamaica has permitted slot machine gaming but has resisted other casino gaming. Haiti has had several casinos, but severe political turmoil culminating in a U.S. military invasion and occupation in 1994 has effectively ended casino operations. There is some effective casino gaming in both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. To the north of the Greater Antilles (technically outside of the Caribbean basin), the Bahamas have some profitable operations as well. Also to the north, Grand Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands have one small casino in a resort hotel. Most of the islands in the Caribbean region welcome operators of Internet gaming beamed toward the United States and focusing upon gambling on sports events.
In the Lesser Antilles, the Leeward Islands of St. Martin, St. Kitts (formerly St. Christopher)–Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda all have casinos. St. Martin is a divided island, one-half being a subprefecture under French control; the other part—the Netherlands Antilles—is under control of The Hague.  The Windward Islands of Martinique, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, and Guadeloupe have casino gaming, as do each of the “ABC” islands in the south Caribbean—Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire.
There have been unsuccessful efforts to place casinos on other island nations and dependencies of the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, the Grenadines, and Grenada. Either investors with ample resources to make it all work would not step forth (considering the multiple disadvantages listed above), or the governments could not be persuaded that they wanted this kind of foreign investment and potential foreign control over their island economies.

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