What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment, usually linked to hotels, resorts and restaurants. In the United States, it is illegal to operate a casino without a license, but casinos are generally owned by private companies.

Most modern casinos are heavily guarded to prevent cheating and theft. Security starts with employees on the casino floor, who keep their eyes peeled for anyone trying to “palm” cards, steal chips or switch dice. In addition, the games themselves are often monitored electronically. For example, in roulette, the betting chips have built-in microcircuitry to allow them to be tracked minute by minute; and electronic systems monitor the roulette wheels for statistical deviations from expected results.

Casinos are a major source of income for many local governments, and some have even become a tourist attraction in their own right. However, some economists question the net economic benefit of casinos, arguing that they divert money from other forms of local entertainment and that the cost of treating compulsive gamblers offsets any revenue gains.

Gambling is a popular activity worldwide, and casinos are found in most countries. The largest casinos are located in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore. Some casinos offer free goods or services to high-volume players, known as “comps.” These perks can include food, show tickets, hotel rooms and even airline tickets. These freebies are based on the amount of money a person wagers during their stay at the casino, and they can be very lucrative to those who make large bets.