A casino is a place where people can gamble. While casinos add a lot of extras to attract customers – like musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers – they are still primarily gambling houses. Some casinos are even located in places where gambling is not legal.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice being found in the earliest archaeological sites. But the modern casino, as a place where multiple ways to gamble are offered under one roof, didn’t emerge until the 16th century. It started in Italy, where nobles would meet in private gaming houses called ridotti to play games such as baccarat and poker.
Most of the games in a casino are pure chance, but some require skill such as blackjack and video poker. Casinos make money by charging a small percentage of the total amount wagered on each game to pay for the equipment, security and staff. This is known as the house edge and can be lower than two percent, depending on the game.
In addition to the house edge, a casino may offer “comps” to keep customers happy. These can be free hotel rooms, dinners or tickets to shows. For big spenders, the casino might even arrange limo service and airline tickets. This is known as a comp rate and is designed to encourage gamblers to stay longer and spend more money. These extras can offset the house edge and make casinos profitable.