The word casino, from the Latin for “gambling house,” refers to a place where a variety of games of chance can be played. The casino provides many luxuries to attract patrons, including restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. However, a casino can also exist with less flashy facilities and still be considered a gambling establishment.
Throughout much of the world casinos operate legally, but only in places with specific laws allowing them to do so. The United States leads the way with over 1,000 legal casinos, and more than 40 of its states offer some form of casino gambling. Casinos are a large source of income for the city of Las Vegas, and they can be found around the world in locations such as Monaco, Paris, and Macau (the latter the largest gaming venue on the planet).
A casino’s advantage comes from a built in statistical edge in the games offered, which is small but adds up over time to earn the casino millions of dollars in profit. This money is then used to build the dazzling resorts, fountains and towers that characterize casinos.
The history of the modern casino stretches back to ancient times, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in archaeological digs. But the modern casino as a venue for various gambling activities did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. The Italian aristocracy held private parties at gaming houses called ridotti, which were technically illegal but rarely bothered by the authorities.