A casino, also known as a gambling house or a gaming establishment, is a place where people can play games of chance or skill for money. Typically, casinos are operated by large companies and are open to the public. They may be combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, and other entertainment venues. Casinos often feature a distinctive architecture and atmosphere that is designed around noise, lighting, and excitement to encourage patrons to gamble.

Until the late 1950s, most American casinos were illegal under federal and state laws. Organized crime figures controlled these illegal operations and made them profitable. Eventually, legitimate businessmen saw the potential of casino gambling and sought to finance it with their own money. They purchased mobsters’ shares of casinos and gained control over the operations.

Casino patrons may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with other players or by themselves. To protect themselves, most casinos use security cameras throughout the facility and provide staff members with extensive training on recognizing suspicious behavior. Casinos employ a variety of other security measures as well, including a strict dress code and a requirement that gamblers be at least twenty-one years old.

Some casinos are also known for their comps, or complimentary goods and services, given to loyal customers. These gifts range from free hotel rooms to luxury suites and buffet dinners, but most common are cash back on slot machines, and free drinks and show tickets. The majority of casino comps are awarded to high rollers, those who wager large amounts of money.