A casino is a public place where games of chance are conducted and where gambling is the primary activity. It may add other luxuries to draw patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. But a casino can also be less elaborate, such as the pai gow tables in New York City’s Chinatown.

Most casinos offer a large selection of games and their rules are regulated by law. Casinos often employ security measures to prevent fraud, such as video cameras that monitor the gaming floor and a network of electronic surveillance systems. They can also have catwalks over the casino floor, where surveillance personnel can look down on players from a distance.

Gambling addiction is a major problem for casino operators. Studies show that five percent of casino patrons are addicted, and they generate a disproportionate amount of profits, depressing the profitability of the entire enterprise. In addition, compulsive gamblers shift spending from other forms of local entertainment and hurt property values in surrounding neighborhoods. Some studies even suggest that the net benefit of a casino to a community is negative.

The casino industry is a major source of income for many communities, but the public must be made aware of its hazards. Casinos should be designed with a high level of security, and there is a need for more education about problem gambling and its effects on society. A number of organizations are attempting to address this issue.