A casino is a place where people can play a variety of games of chance. These places often add a wide range of other amenities to attract gamblers, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. But while these extras help casinos draw in the crowds, they are not essential for gambling to take place.

Even without the opulent trappings of Las Vegas, there have been far less extravagant places that house gambling activities and still qualify as casinos. For example, Italy’s Casino di Campione is Europe’s largest casino resort and holds the title of oldest casino in continental Europe. It includes a two-tiered casino, contemporary art gallery, three restaurants and a three-ring rotating stage for live performances.

Casinos often rely on technology to keep patrons from cheating and stealing, either in collusion or on their own. For example, video cameras monitor the activities of casino tables, and chips with built-in microcircuitry allow casinos to track amounts wagered minute by minute. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored to discover any statistical deviation from the expected outcome.

Although casino revenues are often touted as a boon to a local economy, studies show that compulsive gambling takes away far more from families than it brings in. Moreover, the cost of treating problem gamblers often erodes any gains that casinos might make. For these reasons, some economists believe that casinos may not be a good economic development tool. Nevertheless, there are many casinos around the world that continue to prosper and attract visitors.