A casino is a place where games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. While glitzy stage shows and free drinks help draw in patrons, casinos would not exist without games like slots, blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. These games are what generate the billions of dollars in profits raked in by U.S. casinos each year.

Gambling is different from other types of entertainment, because it requires people to interact with one another in a public setting. Players often shout encouragement or brag about their winnings to one another. Those who lose money are urged by casino employees to try again. Some casinos give big bettors special perks such as expensive hotel rooms, meals and tickets to shows. They also use sophisticated surveillance systems that provide a “smart eye in the sky” that can be focused on suspicious patrons.

However, studies suggest that compulsive gamblers bring negative economic impacts to the community in which they live. These include a shift in spending from other forms of entertainment, lost productivity due to addiction, and the cost of treatment for gambling problems. These costs, combined with the revenue generated by compulsive gamblers, offset any positive impact a casino may have on a local economy.