A casino is a building or room where certain types of gambling activities take place. Most people think of Las Vegas when they hear the word casino, but there are casinos elsewhere. The glitz and glamour of a casino is well known, but many people are surprised to learn that casinos have quite a history, including some very dark times.

While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help attract visitors, the main function of any casino is to provide gambling opportunities. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are the games that bring in billions of dollars for casinos each year.

Gambling is legal in most states, but there are restrictions on who can play. Many casinos are incorporated and owned by corporations, investors or Native American tribes. Others are publicly run and managed by government agencies. State, local and tribal governments often benefit from the billions of dollars in taxes that casinos rake in.

Casinos go to great lengths to lure and keep patrons gambling, and research firms spend millions of dollars determining what colors, sounds and scents appeal most to players. A 2002 poll conducted by Gemini Research found that respondents who gambled in Nevada ranked slot machines as their favorite casino game, with table games coming in second and other games such as keno and bingo in third.

Security in casinos is a top priority, and patrons are urged to observe rules such as keeping hands off of the gaming tables. A high level of security is also provided by cameras that can be adjusted to focus on suspicious behavior.