Does Gambling at a Casino Benefit the Local Economy?

When most people think of a casino, they envision the giant gambling establishments in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. However, casinos are found in many places across the country and around the world. A casino is a place where patrons can gamble and enjoy other entertainment like musical shows, lighted fountains or shopping. Casinos are also a major source of revenue for their owners and generate billions in profits each year.

A large percentage of casino games are based on chance. A small number are based on skill, including poker, blackjack and baccarat. The house always has an advantage in these games and gains money by collecting a commission on bets, a fee called the rake. Casinos can also give away complimentary items or comps to gamblers. For example, players who spend a lot of time at slot machines or play high stakes table games might receive free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and even airline or limo service.

The popularity of gambling in casinos has increased to the point where more people visit casino gambling establishments than attend professional baseball games or any other sport. In fact, a 2005 survey indicated that more Americans visited casinos than they did Broadway shows.

While there are many benefits of having a casino in a community, there is some controversy about whether these institutions actually do good for the local economy. Critics of casino gambling argue that the income from these venues often comes at the expense of other forms of local entertainment, that it increases unemployment in areas with a skilled work force and that the cost of treating problem gamblers cancels out any positive economic impact from a casino.