A casino is a place where gambling games are played. Some casinos add a host of other amenities, including restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, but gambling is the core activity. Historically, casinos have been places where high-stakes games of chance are played. Modern casinos make extensive use of technology to control their games. For example, roulette wheels are electronically monitored minute by minute to detect any statistical deviation from normal behavior.

Casinos are generally upscale establishments that cater to wealthy patrons. Their ambiance is designed around noise, light and excitement. Players are surrounded by other gamblers, who often shout encouragement. Waiters circulating the floor offer alcoholic drinks. Nonalcoholic drinks and snacks are available at counters. Casinos feature large slot machines and table games. Some are huge megacasinos, such as the Casino de Paris in France, which has a total of 165,000 square feet and features a three-story tower with a rotating stage for performances and an enormous poker room.

Although most casinos are geared toward the wealthy, they also attract many middle-class and working-class players. The typical casino patron is a forty-six-year-old woman from a household with above-average income. She is likely to gamble primarily on slot machines and video poker, but also may play poker, blackjack or craps. Some casino patrons become addicted to gambling, and studies indicate that compulsive gamblers generate a disproportionately large percentage of a casino’s profits. As a result, some economists believe that the net economic value of a casino to its community is negative.