A casino is a place where people play games of chance for money, usually by exchanging cash for chips. The games include slot machines, table games (like poker, blackjack and roulette), and sometimes entertainment shows. Most casinos require patrons to be of legal age and to follow gambling laws. Because of the large amounts of money involved, security is a big concern for many casinos. Several security measures are used to prevent cheating, stealing and collusion between players.

Gambling in some form is a feature of almost every culture around the world, dating back to ancient times. In the United States, it was illegal for most of the country’s history until 1931, when Nevada became the first state to permit casino gambling. Casinos sprung up around the country, and gangsters were often the largest financial backers. They also ran the casinos, taking a cut of profits and exerting control over game rules and payouts. However, mob money dried up in the 1950s as real estate investors and hotel chains entered the business. Federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a casino’s license at even the slightest hint of mob involvement forced the casinos to change their ways.

Casinos are a popular tourist attraction and provide a great deal of income for their owners. They also bring in a large amount of tax revenue, and in some cases have become major employers in their cities or states. But there are darker sides to the industry, including the prevalence of problem gambling and lost productivity due to addiction.