When most people think of casinos, images of bright lights and big money come to mind. From the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas to tiny mountain towns where 19th century Wild West buildings house slot machines and poker tables, gambling establishments across the United States attract millions of visitors each year in search of Lady Luck.

Casinos offer a variety of attractions beyond gambling. They can also include hotels, resorts, restaurants and shopping centers. They can even host live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy or musical performances. The term casino can also refer to a specific game, such as baccarat or blackjack.

While the glamorous image of casinos has made them a popular destination for tourists, many people have trouble separating gambling from addiction and other negative effects. Compulsive gamblers often generate a large percentage of a casino’s profits, and they can cost a community in other ways. Critics argue that the influx of people from outside a local area can depress the value of nearby homes and businesses; that the revenue generated by gambling may divert funds away from other forms of recreation; and that the high costs associated with treating gambling disorders outweigh any financial benefits a casino brings to its host community.

The earliest modern casinos were small clubs where Italians would gather for social events and to play cards. With government crackdowns on the Mafia and the rise of real estate investors with deep pockets, mob involvement in casinos began to decline, and legitimate businesses moved in. Today, casinos are a multibillion dollar industry that has grown to include locations all over the world.