What Is a Casino?

A casino is a gambling establishment that houses games of chance and features a variety of other entertainment options. It offers everything from restaurants and free drinks to stage shows and dramatic scenery. Casinos can be very elaborate, such as those found in Las Vegas, or much more modest, such as the one in Baden-Baden, which is designed to blend in with its refined Black Forest surroundings.

The first casinos sprang up in the United States and Europe during the early 20th century. They were often built on American Indian reservations, where they were exempt from state antigambling laws. Other casinos were built on cruise ships and riverboats, or were incorporated into hotels and resorts. In the 1970s, many American states amended their antigambling laws to permit casinos.

In the 1990s, casinos dramatically increased their use of technology for security purposes. For example, a system called chip tracking allows casinos to oversee betting chips minute-by-minute and warn them of any unusual activity; meanwhile, roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any deviation from their expected results. Casinos also use video cameras for surveillance, with workers monitoring the feeds in a room filled with banks of security monitors.

Casinos can be good for local economies, bringing in visitors who spend money on hotel rooms, restaurant meals and other entertainment. But critics say that the costs of treating problem gamblers and lost productivity from those who are addicted to gambling outweigh any economic benefits casinos bring.