What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that allows people to gamble by offering chips in exchange for money. Casinos may offer games of chance such as baccarat, roulette and blackjack, or skill-based games such as poker and craps. Most casinos are located in large cities, with the most famous being in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Modern casinos are often massive, with multiple floors and rooms packed with gaming tables and slot machines. Many have elaborate themes, lighted fountains and shopping centers to draw in the crowds. Musical shows and other forms of entertainment are also provided, but the vast majority of the profits come from gambling.

Casinos are a major source of employment worldwide. They are also important sources of tax revenue for the local governments they operate in. However, critics argue that the costs of treating compulsive gamblers and lost productivity due to gambling can more than offset any economic benefits a casino brings to a community.

In the early days of the gambling industry, casinos were often mob run. While mafia money brought much needed capital to the business, it also gave the industry a tainted image. Eventually real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets bought out the gangsters, giving casinos a more legitimate reputation.

Because of the amount of money that is handled in a casino, security is extremely important. Most casinos employ a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments. The latter usually have a high-tech eye-in-the-sky system that allows security personnel to monitor the entire floor at once.