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A casino is a place where people can gamble. These gambling establishments are sometimes combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shops or other tourist attractions. They may be built on land or anchored on barges or boats that travel on waterways. The casino industry generates billions of dollars in profits for the owners, investors, companies and Native American tribes that operate them.

Casinos use bright and sometimes gaudy floor and wall coverings to stimulate the senses, and patrons are encouraged to gamble all day and night, even in off-hours. The lack of clocks on the walls is also meant to make it difficult for players to keep track of time. The sound of casino noise, the flashing lights and the smell of smoke all add to the excitement. Many casinos offer upscale restaurants, buffets and bars. In addition, they offer a wide variety of live entertainment, concerts and sporting events.

In the past, casino owners often used mob ties to entice gamblers, but federal crackdowns on organized crime and a greater emphasis on promoting casino gaming as a leisure activity have reduced mob involvement in the business. Today, real estate developers and hotel chains own most of the world’s casinos.

In the United States, 51 million people—a quarter of all adults over 21—visited a casino in 2002. That number could be double today, since gambling is more popular than ever. A large proportion of the gambling money is spent on slot machines and table games, such as blackjack, roulette and craps.