A casino is a place where gambling activities take place. It also refers to a building that houses these activities, particularly in the United States. In modern usage, the term is most often used to refer to a facility that offers a wide range of games of chance and other forms of entertainment. Casinos typically offer stage shows, restaurants, shops and other amenities to attract customers. The profits derived from gambling activities provide the bulk of casinos’ revenues.
Casinos offer an array of games to patrons, including blackjack, roulette, craps, video poker and slots. Most of these games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house a constant profit over the players. This advantage is known as the house edge and it is uniformly negative from a player’s perspective. In addition, casinos rake money from table games like craps and baccarat by taking a commission or vig on each bet placed.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. However, the modern casino with multiple ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century when a gambling craze swept Europe. Venice’s Ridotto was the first government-sanctioned gambling house and the precursor to today’s casinos.
As the American casino industry grew in the 1950s, owners sought funds to expand and improve their facilities. Mob figures had plenty of cash from their drug dealing, extortion and illegal gambling rackets, and they readily invested in the new ventures. The mob’s money also helped legitimize the casino business, removing its taint of vice. The casino business now draws visitors from all over the world and is an enormous source of revenue for resorts, hotels and other businesses that host them.