Casino is a gambling establishment where patrons play games of chance and, in some cases, skill. Craps, roulette, keno, blackjack, baccarat and slot machines generate billions in profits each year for casinos. In addition to games of chance, many casinos feature musical shows, shopping centers and elaborate hotels.
Casinos are usually open around the clock and have security personnel to ensure that no one is stealing money or other items. The security staff watches every table, window and doorway from a room filled with banks of monitors that are adjusted to focus on suspicious patrons. Casino employees also watch patrons and note patterns in their behavior that could signal cheating.
Even though gambling is illegal, it is a popular pastime. It is believed that casino gambling originated in the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats, who were allowed to gamble at private clubs called ridotti, grew fond of the games. The popularity of these small clubhouses led to the creation of larger public gambling houses, which were known as casinos.
Casinos are also considered destination tourist attractions, attracting people from all over the country and world to specific cities and states. Critics contend that casinos hurt local economy by diverting spending from other types of entertainment and by decreasing property values. They are also criticized for contributing to compulsive gambling, which is estimated to generate 25 percent of casino profits. Gambling addiction causes a great deal of social and economic harm, including broken homes and lost productivity in the workplace.