A casino is a gambling establishment where patrons play games of chance for money. Its etymology stems back to Italy, and its modern-day incarnations are generally built to resemble a palace or other public building. Some casinos are free-standing buildings, while others are incorporated into hotels and resorts. Many American states have laws regulating the operation of casinos.

Due to the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both employees and patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. As a result, most casinos spend a lot of time and effort on security. This is primarily done by employing a combination of physical and specialized surveillance techniques.

For example, casinos typically have a “chip tracking” system to oversee the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute; and roulette wheels are regularly monitored for statistical deviations from their expected results. In addition to surveillance cameras, most modern casinos use computerized systems in all their table games to automatically track player’s wagers and tally up the totals. In the case of slot machines, each machine is wired to a central computer, so that any statistical deviations are quickly spotted by the casino’s security staff.

However, despite the high profit margins that casinos enjoy, studies show that gambling addiction is a real phenomenon that has a significant negative impact on a community’s economic health. In particular, it causes local residents to shift their entertainment spending from other forms of local entertainment such as restaurants and movies to casinos, which reduces the amount of money that is spent in the community’s economy. It also damages property values in the surrounding area.