A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance and skill. Many casinos have restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to lure customers. Often, these are combined with hotels and other amenities to attract tourists. The most famous casinos in the world are located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Other large casinos are found in Atlantic City, New Jersey; and on Indian reservations and American riverboats. In Europe, France has many casinos, including those in Cannes, Nice, Divonne-les-Bains, and Deauville. In the United States, the most popular games of chance are craps, roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. In some cases, a casino may offer poker and other card games where patrons play against each other. The house makes its profit in these situations by taking a small percentage of each pot or charging players a hourly fee.
A small number of casinos are located in other countries, particularly those built for tourists. The most notable of these is the Hotel de la Paix in Geneva, Switzerland, which features spectacular views of Lake Lugano and the steep mountains on the Italian-Swiss border. The Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Monaco is another major tourist attraction. The Monte Carlo casino is one of the largest in the world, with more than 300 slot machines and over 70 table games.
Gambling laws vary widely around the world, and casino locations are closely linked to political and economic factors. In the United States, many state governments regulate or prohibit casinos. Some have legalized only certain types of gambling, such as lotteries and horse racing. Others have banned all forms of gambling, or allow only very limited gambling. Still others have no gambling at all, or allow only state-licensed operations. In the late 20th century, many states amended their antigambling statutes to permit casinos. In addition, Atlantic City became a popular tourist destination, and several American Indian reservations opened casinos. In the 1990s, casinos began appearing on cruise ships and in foreign cities.
In the beginning, most casinos were run by organized crime groups. After the mob was broken up, the business became a magnet for investors and entrepreneurs. Real estate developers, hotel chains, and even the likes of Donald Trump and Hilton jumped into the game with enormous investments. The money they poured into the casinos made them profitable, and federal crackdowns on mob involvement in casino operations prevented them from being tainted by mob influence.
Some casino critics point out that the profits generated by a casino are not enough to offset its negative social and economic impact. These critics argue that the presence of a casino leads to a loss in tourism revenue, and that the high cost of treating compulsive gamblers largely offsets any gains from legalized gambling. Furthermore, studies suggest that a casino may actually decrease the availability of other forms of entertainment in its vicinity. These concerns have led some communities to ban the construction of new casinos.