A casino is a facility that offers gambling-related entertainment. Often these facilities are combined with hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions. Casinos can also be found on American Indian reservations, which are exempt from state antigambling laws. Despite their widespread acceptance, casinos are controversial. They can raise crime rates in their surrounding areas, and they can hurt local property values. They may also encourage addictive gambling.

Casinos were first popularized in the United States by Nevada, which realized that it could capitalize on the influx of “destination tourists” from across the country. Atlantic City and New Jersey followed suit, as did Iowa, which began allowing riverboat casinos. Other states gradually relaxed their anti-gambling laws, and by the 1980s many Americans traveled to Las Vegas for casino fun.

The modern casino industry is based on games of chance and in some cases skill. The odds of winning or losing a particular game are mathematically determined, and the house always has a positive expected value (though this is not necessarily obvious to patrons). Casinos earn income from a variety of sources, including comps for high rollers and players’ club members, which are based on the amount of money they spend. They also charge commissions for baccarat and blackjack, and, since the 1980s, from slot machines.

In the early days of casino development, organized crime figures supplied the cash that kept casinos running. But as legal businessmen with deep pockets gained control of the market, they realized that they could make much more money by building casinos without mob interference.