A casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance. Its original meaning was a public hall for music and dancing, but by the second half of the 19th century it had come to mean a collection of gaming or gambling rooms. The classic example is the one at Monte-Carlo, which opened in 1863 and continues to be a major source of income for the principality of Monaco.
Casinos are usually built with a large amount of security, both in terms of physical and electronic protection. For the most part this is successful in preventing theft and cheating by patrons, although some casinos still experience problems with this. A childhood friend of mine once worked for a security team at an Atlantic City casino. He quit after just three months because he was sick of seeing people stand in front of slot machines soiling themselves. Such behavior is obviously out of line and the casino must protect its guests.
The casino industry is a highly profitable business, even with its inherent risks. But the industry also has a bad reputation for encouraging addiction to gambling. Studies show that the social costs, such as incarceration and treatment of compulsive gamblers, far outweigh any economic gains that a casino might bring to a town or region.
While most people associate casinos with Las Vegas, they can be found all over the world. Some have the atmosphere of a high-end resort, with amenities such as a spa and fine restaurants. Others are less formal, such as the Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, South Africa. Here, a mix of hardened dollar spinners and newbies can enjoy the many table games and slots.