What is a Casino?

A casino is a place where people can play gambling games, most notably poker and other card games. While musical shows, lighted fountains and themed hotels may help casinos lure in customers, the vast majority of a casino’s profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno bring in billions of dollars every year. But there is one thing about gambling that you must remember: if you play long enough, the house will win.

In fact, the house has many built-in advantages to ensure that it will always make money. These are known as the house edge and are built into the rules of each game. This is not to say that a person can’t beat the house, but it is important to know that a casino is a business, and as such, it must maximize profits.

Gambling in some form has existed since the earliest times, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. However, the modern casino, where gamblers could find a variety of ways to wager under one roof, did not emerge until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Aristocrats often held private parties at places called ridotti, where they gathered to socialize and gamble.

The casino industry has grown tremendously in recent decades. In addition to the traditional Las Vegas strip, there are now several large gaming locations in Atlantic City, New Jersey; American Indian reservations; and in states that allow riverboat or land-based casinos. Many of these locations offer non-gambling activities, restaurants and hotels to provide an all-around entertainment experience for their guests.