A casino is an establishment that offers various types of gambling. These facilities are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shops, and other tourist attractions. Casinos are also found on some cruise ships and in land-based locations, such as in Las Vegas, Nevada and other cities.
While musical shows, shopping centers and extravagant hotels help attract visitors, casinos are primarily gambling establishments and earn billions of dollars in profits every year through slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and other games of chance. The word casino has several other meanings: It may refer to a large building or complex of rooms used for gaming, a group of such buildings, or an entire city. Casinos often feature a mixture of games, with the most popular being poker and slots.
Many casinos feature Asian fare, including sic bo (which spread to European and American casinos in the 1990s), fan-tan, and pai gow. Some also offer traditional European games, such as baccarat.
During the 1980s, a number of states amended their antigambling laws to allow casinos, and they began opening on Indian reservations. Today, there are more than 3,000 legal casinos worldwide, with the majority located in the United States.
Despite the reputation of being a fun place to gamble, casinos are not for everyone. A friend of mine who worked security at one in Atlantic City once told me that he quit his job after 3 months as he was sick of people standing around slot machines soiling themselves because they believed they were on a winning streak. Fortunately, casino security is improved by an elaborate surveillance system that gives the staff a high-tech eye-in-the-sky, allowing them to watch each table, game window and doorway from a separate room filled with banks of monitors.