What is a Casino?
A casino is a place where people gamble on games of chance. Though musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels may draw in visitors, casinos would not exist without the billions of dollars in profits raked in every year from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and games like baccarat, craps and keno are the games that generate those profits.
The odds of any given game at a casino are mathematically determined to ensure that the house wins, or at least loses no more than it expects to win. This built-in advantage, which is referred to as the house edge, is what makes casinos so profitable that they can afford to build giant pyramids, awe-inspiring towers and replicas of famous landmarks.
While gambling predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof developed in the 16th century during a gambling craze that saw Italian aristocrats gather in private clubs called ridotti. While technically illegal, these venues were rarely bothered by legal authorities – apparently they weren’t considered public gambling houses.
Today, many casinos feature a wide range of games, from the classics like blackjack and poker to Far Eastern favorites like sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow. Some offer a variety of poker variants including Caribbean stud, while others specialize in regional games of local interest. Most American casinos also have table games like baccarat, chemin de fer and trente et quarante.