The casino, a modern institution that allows players to risk money in exchange for the chance to win big, is an entertainment industry of tremendous growth. Though many casinos offer hotels, restaurants, nongambling game rooms and shopping centers, the bulk of their profits come from games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno are the games that give casinos their distinctive flavor and generate billions in profits each year.
The concept of the casino grew from a small gambling club in Venice, Italy that operated around 1638. This is considered the first government-sanctioned gambling house and the earliest known to be open to the general public. From here the concept spread throughout Europe as it was copied and modified by other countries. Today casinos are found all over the world, including a large number in Asia and South America.
Modern casinos have become more complex and high-tech. They use video cameras and computer systems to monitor games. For example, betting chips have built-in microcircuitry that enables casinos to see how much each player is wagering minute by minute and to detect cheating such as marking, palming or switching cards. Casinos also have automated games where players push buttons to play games like baccarat and roulette.
Casinos are regulated by state and provincial governments to ensure that patrons are treated fairly. They are also subject to taxes to fund local services. Some communities oppose the presence of casinos because they argue that the money spent by compulsive gamblers erodes other sources of community revenue and that the costs of treatment and lost productivity from gambling addicts more than offset any economic gains.