A casino is an establishment for gambling. Some casinos offer a variety of table and slot games, while others specialize in one type of game or another. Most casinos also offer food and drink. In some countries, casinos are operated by government-owned enterprises. In other cases, they are owned by private individuals or groups. Some casinos are located in major cities, while others are found in small towns and even in rural areas. Casinos are sometimes combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, cruise ships and other tourist attractions.
Casinos earn their money by offering a built-in statistical advantage to the house in all their games. This edge can be as low as two percent, but it adds up over the millions of bets placed by patrons. To compensate for this, casinos often give away extravagant inducements to the largest bettors. These may include free spectacular entertainment, luxury hotel rooms, limousine transportation and reduced-fare airfare to a casino.
The exact origins of casino games are not certain, but the concept of a venue where multiple forms of gambling could be enjoyed under the same roof began to develop in Europe during the 16th century, with a particular focus on Italian aristocrats’ specialized clubs known as ridotti. Gambling in these venues was technically illegal, but the aristocracy did not care and the venues thrived [Source: Schwartz].
In America, casinos became more common after real estate investors and hotel chains bought out mob-owned operations and established their own. Because of federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at any hint of mafia involvement, most casinos today are run by legitimate corporations.