A casino is a place where people can play games of chance and gamble. It also can have other entertainment features, such as restaurants and stage shows. It is also sometimes called a gambling house, although that term is more often used to refer to a place where the gambling activities are legal.

There have been less elaborate places that house gambling activities and have been called casinos, but the term has come to be associated with lavish amenities designed to attract players. For example, a casino might offer free drinks or even food in a bar, and it might have a wide variety of casino games that can be played on a large number of tables.

In the past, mobsters provided much of the capital for casinos in Nevada and other states, and they often took sole or partial ownership of these institutions. But with increased government crackdowns on mob involvement in the gaming business and the threat of losing a casino license at the slightest hint of mafia influence, legitimate businesses have been able to take over many of these establishments.

In the twenty-first century, some casinos are focusing on high-stakes players, who spend many times more than average on their bets. These high rollers are often given special inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, luxurious suites, reduced-fare transportation and airline tickets, and other perks. But some studies have found that a casino’s net effect on a local community can be negative, especially if it draws in compulsive gamblers who shift spending away from other forms of entertainment and cause a corresponding loss in productivity.