A casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance, and it’s a huge business. The word’s meaning has changed over time, but today it mostly means a building or online site where gambling takes place.

In addition to a big gambling floor, casinos typically feature a variety of restaurants and bars, live entertainment and top-notch hotels. They also offer slot machines, poker rooms and table games like craps and roulette. A croupier runs most games and manages the money. A casino’s security staff keeps watch over patrons to ensure they follow the rules.

The casino industry is a multi-billion dollar business that relies on the fact that many people like to gamble. While the glitz of lighted fountains, musical shows and shopping centers help draw in customers, casinos would not exist without games of chance like slots, blackjack, video poker and other table games. Each of these games has a built-in house edge, or mathematical advantage, that allows the casino to make money from each bet placed by a player. The house earns this money via a commission known as the vig or rake.

Historically, the term casino also applied to places that offered more modest gambling activities. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, for example, became a playground for wealthy Europeans 150 years ago, drawing royalty and aristocracy to its dazzling poker rooms and blackjack tables. But the dark side of the casino business is not so benign. Studies show that compulsive gambling takes a heavy toll on local economies, with addiction costs and lost productivity outweighing any revenue generated by casinos.