From the glittering casinos of Las Vegas to the clandestine pai gow tables in Chinatown, a casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. Whether it is slot machines, table games, keno, roulette, craps or poker, the billions of dollars in profits raked in every year by casinos around the world are generated mainly by gambling activities. While luxuries like restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery help attract players, casinos wouldn’t exist without the games themselves.

In addition to offering the expected results of each game, casinos also charge a percentage of each bet made by players. This is sometimes known as the house edge and it varies from game to game. In roulette, the casino advantage is usually less than one percent, but in a game of poker, it can be much higher.

As the popularity of casino games increased, more and more states legalized them. In the twentieth century, casinos expanded into international markets and diversified their offerings by opening a variety of gaming rooms. Many of these rooms were separate from the main casino floor and appealed to high-stakes gamblers who would spend tens of thousands of dollars in a single session. These customers often received special inducements such as free spectacular entertainment, limousine service and luxurious living quarters.

Some economists argue that casinos bolster the economy of cities and regions in which they are located. However, others point to the economic costs of treating compulsive gambling and the loss in productivity by workers who spend time in casinos. In addition, many communities find that casinos divert spending from other forms of local entertainment.