A casino is a place where various types of gambling activities are available. Some casinos are lavish places with restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery, while others are less extravagant. Regardless of the amount of luxury and entertainment they provide, all casinos earn their money by giving patrons a built in advantage over the house (known as the “house edge”). This advantage may be quite small, but the millions of bets placed by casino patrons can add up to significant profits. These profits can then be used to fund hotel rooms, expensive decorations and elaborate structures such as fountains, towers and replicas of famous landmarks.

Casino games include a variety of card and dice games. While the earliest forms of gambling date back to primitive human history, the casino as a facility for finding different ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats began holding private parties called ridotti, where they would play baccarat.

As casinos grew in popularity, organized crime figures jumped into the business. They were able to inject large sums of money to help legitimize the businesses, and something about gambling’s seamy image didn’t seem to bother them. However, federal crackdowns and the potential for losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement eventually drove these criminals out of the business. Real estate investors and hotel chains soon realized the potential profits and began putting their own money into casinos.