A casino is an establishment for gambling. It may be located in a hotel, casino resort or a standalone building. It may also be found on a cruise ship or at a racetrack. In the United States, there are over 1,000 casinos. Several cities are known for their casinos, including Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Casinos generate billions of dollars each year for local governments, corporations, investors and Native American tribes. However, critics argue that the gambling industry hurts local economic development by shifting spending away from other forms of entertainment and by increasing the cost of treating compulsive gamblers.

Casinos are equipped with elaborate surveillance systems to protect patrons from cheating and theft. They use cameras that provide a “eye-in-the-sky” view of the gaming floor, allowing security workers to monitor suspicious behavior or spot any unauthorized changes in betting patterns on table games. In addition, each slot machine in a casino is wired to the central system and the payouts are controlled by computer chips.

To maximize profits, a casino must attract high-spending players and keep them gambling as long as possible. To that end, many casinos offer free spectacular entertainment, reduced-fare transportation and luxurious living quarters to big bettors. They also use bright, sometimes gaudy colors that are thought to stimulate the senses and encourage people to lose track of time. Clocks are typically not displayed on the walls, and most casino floors are dark, with only the glowing lights from the slots to signal that it is still playtime.