A casino is a place where people gamble and play games of chance. Although musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and lavish hotels help attract customers, the billions of dollars in profits for casinos comes from games of chance, such as slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat. Casinos earn their profit by taking a percentage of the bets placed by patrons, known as vig or rake, and offering complimentary items to regular players (known as comps).
Casinos are often themed with elaborate decor, ranging from a replica of the Eiffel Tower to the Las Vegas Strip’s famous fountain show. Casinos may also offer entertainment such as comedians, magicians and croupiers, or feature art collections.
Despite the glitz, glamour and opulence that characterize many casino settings, they are inherently risky places. In addition to the possibility of losing large sums of money, casino employees and patrons alike can be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently. This is why casinos spend so much time, effort and money on security.
While gambling probably predates recorded history, the casino as a central location for various forms of gambling did not appear until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Earlier, wealthy Italian aristocrats would hold private parties at houses called ridotti where they could play a variety of games of chance.