A casino is a gambling establishment that allows patrons to play a variety of games of chance for money. Casinos are often associated with lavish entertainment and top-notch hotels, but they can also be found in more modest venues such as racetracks, boats and horse stables. In the United States, casinos are mostly owned by large corporations and operate under licenses from government authorities. The casino concept originated in Europe, and in the late 20th century casinos spread across the world as more countries changed their gambling laws to permit them.

Unlike lotteries and Internet gambling, casino games require social interaction between players and are often played in groups. The sociable aspect of casino gambling appeals to many people. The ambiance of a casino is designed around noise, light and excitement. In addition, elaborate surveillance systems can provide a high-tech eye-in-the sky to monitor all activity.

Casinos make their money by offering an advantage on all bets placed. This advantage is sometimes less than two percent, but over millions of bets it adds up to a significant amount of revenue. To compensate for this, casinos frequently offer generous inducements to gamblers. These include free spectacular entertainment, luxury hotel rooms and transportation, and discounted or complimentary food and drinks.

Because of the sheer amount of cash handled, casinos are prone to robbery and theft. To reduce these risks, most casinos employ a combination of physical security forces and specialized surveillance departments.