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What Is a Casino?

A casino is a facility that offers various forms of gambling, such as slot machines and table games (like poker and blackjack). To gamble in a casino, patrons typically exchange money for chips that can be used to place bets. Some casinos also offer entertainment shows. To be allowed to gamble in a casino, patrons must be of legal age and follow the rules and regulations of the establishment.

Casinos are often heavily regulated to prevent cheating and other forms of criminal activity. Because large amounts of currency are handled within a casino, both patrons and staff may be tempted to steal, either in collusion or independently; most casinos have stringent security measures, such as surveillance cameras located throughout the facility.

The success of a casino is largely dependent on its ability to attract and keep gamblers. To this end, large companies spend millions on determining what combinations of colors, sounds, and scents appeal most to people. In addition, many casinos encourage frequent patronage by offering comps—free or discounted meals, drinks, show tickets, and even free hotel rooms.

Gambling is considered a form of entertainment by most Americans, and the popularity of casinos continues to grow. In 2004, a poll conducted for the American Gaming Association by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and the Luntz Research Companies reported that 54% of respondents felt that casino gambling was acceptable for themselves or others. This figure is up from the 20% reported in a Gallup poll of 1989.