A casino is a place where gamblers can risk their money on games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains and hotels might lure in visitors, the billions of dollars raked in by casinos each year come from games such as roulette, craps, baccarat and blackjack.
Gambling probably existed as early as recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at some of the earliest archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino, though, did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. At that time, rich aristocrats often held private parties called ridotti where they could enjoy gambling, food and drink and the company of friends.
These days, most casinos offer a full range of gambling options, including slot machines, table games and poker. Some have even taken advantage of new technology to give players a little more power over their bankroll. These “smart” machines have been programmed to monitor a player’s betting habits, and can adjust payout amounts accordingly. Players who are known big spenders may also be offered free hotel rooms, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets (this is called comping).
Although some people try to cheat or steal at casinos, it’s a rare event for anyone to actually win more than the house. This is because every casino game has a built in statistical advantage for the house, which is commonly known as the house edge. Combined with the high turnover rate of casino patrons, this gives the house an overall profit.