A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance, such as roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat and poker. While casinos feature many other attractions, including lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate hotels, the billions of dollars in profits that they rake in each year comes from games of chance, with slot machines providing the bulk of this income.
While gambling has existed for as long as humans have, the modern casino as a place where patrons could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a casino craze swept Europe. Casinos started as small clubhouses for Italian aristocrats, called ridotti, but they became popular as legalized gambling venues after the inquisition ended and they escaped the scrutiny of religious authorities.
Casinos are businesses, and like all businesses they need to make a profit. To this end, they have built in advantages in each of their games that ensure they win a certain percentage of bets. This advantage is often less than two percent, but over time and millions of bets it adds up. Casinos also make money through a commission on bets, known as the vig or rake, and by offering comps to players.
Casino security starts on the gaming floor, with dealers and pit bosses keeping an eye out for blatant cheating (like palming dice or marking cards) and monitoring patterns of betting that can signal collusion. More sophisticated technologies are used to supervise table games, with specialized chips that allow casinos to monitor the exact amounts of money wagered minute by minute; and a computerized system that tracks each wheel of a roulette game to discover any statistical deviations from expected results.