A casino is a building or room where various games of chance are played. The games of chance include poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. Most casinos also have restaurants and bars. Some even host live entertainment. A casino is a major source of revenue for the government of a country. It is also an important tourist attraction.

Most casinos are open 24 hours a day, though some close during the night. They employ numerous people to staff them and oversee the security of patrons and property. The staff is trained to spot cheating and stealing. Modern casinos use a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments. The latter often have a high-tech “eye in the sky” system, which allows casino security personnel to watch every table, window, and doorway from a separate room filled with bank of monitors.

When Nevada legalized gambling in 1978, organized crime figures had plenty of cash from their drug dealing and extortion rackets to invest in casinos. Mobsters were eager to be involved, and they took sole or partial ownership of many casinos, threatening the lives of anyone who tried to stop them. Legitimate businessmen were reluctant to touch casinos, with their taint of criminal association.

In the 1980s, casinos began appearing on American Indian reservations, which are not subject to state antigambling laws. They also began to spread across the United States, with Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Chicago leading the way. Despite these changes, some economists argue that casinos have a net negative impact on the economy of the communities they serve because they divert spending from other forms of local entertainment and may cause people to become addicted to gambling.