A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance. While many casinos offer luxuries like restaurants, stage shows and dramatic scenery, their main attraction is the gambling activity that they facilitate. Casinos are typically located in cities that have a large population or where people frequently travel to from other states or countries for business or vacation.
Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice found in the most ancient archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino did not develop until the 16th century when gambling crazes swept Europe. Rich nobles would gather in private parties called ridotti to gamble and socialize and these became the precursor of casinos.
Today’s casinos make money by giving the patron a built in advantage, usually no more than two percent. This advantage is generated by the mathematical expectancy of various games of chance and it allows the casino to generate a substantial gross profit over time. For this reason, the majority of a casino’s revenue is derived from slot machines and video poker.
However, casinos also feature table games such as blackjack and baccarat which appeal to big bettors and require a high level of skill. In addition to this, casinos regularly give players comps (free goods or services) such as free hotel rooms and meals, tickets to shows and even limo service and airline tickets for heavy gamblers. These comps are based on the amount of time and money gamblers spend at the casino.