Casino is a gambling establishment that houses games of chance, such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker and other card games, and offers its patrons the opportunity to win money by wagering against the house. Modern casinos add a host of entertainment features, such as stage shows, restaurants and shopping centers, but they would not exist without the underlying games of chance.
There are more than 3,000 legal casinos worldwide. Most of these are found in the United States, with nearly half located in Las Vegas. American Indian tribes also operate casinos in some states, as do countries such as the Philippines and South Africa. Casinos have become increasingly common in Europe as well, primarily because European laws on gambling are less restrictive than U.S. ones.
Despite their popularity, casinos are not without controversy. Many economists argue that the social costs of compulsive gambling, including higher medical and prison costs and lower property values, far outweigh any economic benefits they bring to a community. Other critics note that the profits generated by casinos are not distributed equally, and that the influx of tourists may shift spending from other forms of local entertainment.
Something about gambling encourages people to cheat, steal and scam their way into a jackpot. This is why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security. Most of their security measures are technological, such as video surveillance and computerized monitoring of all table activity. But security personnel also watch the behavior of patrons, noticing patterns that may indicate suspicious activities.