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What is a Casino?

The casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance. Although casinos often add other features, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract patrons, they are essentially gambling houses. Modern casino buildings often have high-tech surveillance systems, and some casinos use special cameras designed to monitor betting patterns for evidence of cheating. Casinos also enforce rules of conduct and behavior. For example, players at card games are required to keep their cards visible at all times.

While gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the casino as a collection of games under one roof did not develop until the 16th century during a European gambling craze. During that time, Italian aristocrats held private parties at places called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. Although these clubs were technically illegal, they were so popular that the Italian Inquisition rarely bothered them.

Today’s successful casinos draw billions in profits for their owners, corporations, investors and Native American tribes. State and local governments also reap tax revenues from these establishments.

Despite the money they generate, many people are addicted to gambling. These problem gamblers typically spend more money than they can afford to lose, and they may even steal from their own families. As a result, studies show that casinos actually drain a community’s economy. Moreover, the costs of treating compulsive gambling disorder offset any economic gains casinos might make. For these reasons, most legitimate businessmen shun the opportunity to get involved in this sort of venture.