A casino is a gambling establishment where people can gamble. These places often combine gambling with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and cruise ships. They also may host live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, concerts, and sports events. In some countries, casinos are called gaming halls or clubs. Casinos are most often associated with Las Vegas and Atlantic City but they can be found in other places around the world as well.

The modern casino is much like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of the entertainment (and profits for the owners) coming from games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw in the crowds, it is games such as slot machines, black jack, roulette, craps, and keno that provide the billions of dollars in profits raked in by casinos every year.

While many people see casinos as places of pure indulgence and self-indulgence, they can have a dark side too. Compulsive gambling is a significant problem that can have devastating effects on families, communities and the economy. Studies have shown that the economic gain to a local area from a casino is less than it might seem, due to money spent on treating gambling addiction and lost productivity of people who spend long hours at the tables or machines.

As the number of casinos grew, they became a popular destination for tourists and many states began legalizing gambling to attract these visitors. However, the smoky image of casino gambling and its association with organized crime still made legitimate businessmen hesitant to invest in the industry. This left the field to mobster groups, which were able to finance large casinos in cities such as Reno and Las Vegas. Mobster money brought a sense of legitimacy to the industry, but it also opened up the opportunity for crooked operators to cheat and steal from customers.

To protect themselves from such occurrences, most casinos have elaborate security measures in place. For example, some casinos use special chips with built-in microcircuitry that allow the casino to monitor bets minute by minute; other casinos have a high-tech “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance system where cameras are set up to watch every table, window and doorway.

In addition to these physical security measures, most casinos have programs that reward loyal patrons with free goods and services. These rewards are based on the amount of time and money a person spends at the casino, as well as the type of game played. For example, a frequent slots player might receive free hotel rooms or meals, while a poker player could get tickets to a show or even airline tickets. This is one of the main ways that casinos compete with each other, trying to lure in the most profitable customers. In some cases, this competition can even escalate into violence between competing casinos or their patrons.