The casino industry is booming. In the United States alone, the American Gaming Association estimates that nearly 51 million people visited casinos in 2002. Worldwide, the number is estimated to be twice as large. In addition to attracting visitors by their sheer physical size, casinos offer a wide range of amenities to keep them coming back. These include a variety of restaurants and bars, luxurious accommodations, high-end shopping and spa services, and even entertainment.

Casinos are also famous for their elaborate inducements to big bettors, or “comps.” These can include free shows, transportation and limo service, and even hotel rooms and airfare. They are calculated to offset the casinos’ mathematical expectancy of a loss from their customers’ gambles.

In fact, the world’s first casino was opened in 1638, when the government of Venice allowed a Ridotto to open for business. This four-story gambling house was a forerunner to the modern casino, with various rooms for primitive card games and a selection of food and drinks to keep the patrons happy.

Since then, the world’s best casinos have grown to be much more than a place to play cards. The Bellagio in Las Vegas, for instance, is famous for its dancing fountains and its luxury accommodation. And in Macau, the city that is billed as Asia’s version of Las Vegas, the Grand Lisboa stands out with its glittering exterior and over a million LED lights. Even in a more modest location, like the Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, South Africa, you can find thousands of slot machines and poker tables.