A casino is an establishment for certain types of gambling. It may be integrated with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. It may also feature entertainment such as live music and comedy shows. The word is derived from the Italian word for “decoration” or “enrichment.”
Historically, casinos were associated with organized crime figures and their gangster ties. They were often illegal in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City. The Mafia used casinos to launder money obtained through drug dealing, extortion, and other criminal activities, bringing them a measure of legitimacy. These mobsters often took sole or partial ownership of casinos and even rigged games.
Today, casinos are much like indoor amusement parks for adults. They have beautiful decorations, world class entertainment and exciting games. But the vast majority of their profits come from gambling, particularly slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps. Something about gambling (perhaps the large amounts of money handled) encourages people to cheat and steal, either in collusion with others or independently. That is why casinos spend a lot of time and effort on security.
In addition to the expected profit from gambling, casinos generate significant tax revenue for their home cities. This money allows politicians to fund city services and avoid spending cuts in other areas of the budget. Casinos also create jobs in their local communities. While studies vary on the exact size of these benefits, there is no doubt that casino gambling brings some economic relief to the neighborhoods around them.