A casino is a facility where people can gamble and play games of chance. The term is most closely associated with gambling establishments in Las Vegas, though there are casinos in many other cities and countries. Some states have passed laws to regulate or ban gambling, while others allow it only on certain American Indian reservations. Some people who gamble regularly earn complimentary items or comps, which they can redeem for cash or goods at the casino. In general, the more money a player spends, the higher their comp level.
Despite the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas, casinos have a seedier side. In the 1950s, organized crime figures had ample funds from drug dealing and extortion rackets to invest in Reno and Vegas casinos, and they took sole or partial ownership of many of them. Some also tried to influence the outcome of games by providing bankrolls, controlling access to security and threatening or intimidating casino employees.
A casino’s main purpose is to generate profits from the gambling activities of its patrons. Most of these are recreational gamblers, but some are addicted to the game and contribute disproportionately to the profit margin. Some economic studies have found that casinos may actually bring negative net benefits to a community because they draw spending away from other forms of local entertainment and increase the costs of treating problem gamblers. Security is another major focus of casino operations. Elaborate surveillance systems include cameras that resemble an eye-in-the-sky and can be adjusted to focus on specific suspicious patrons. The routines and patterns of casino games also make them easier for security personnel to spot abnormal behavior.