Casino is a gambling establishment where patrons play games of chance for money or other prizes. These venues typically offer a variety of gaming options, including slots, roulette, blackjack, craps, poker, baccarat, and more. Some casinos even feature restaurants and other amenities like spas and theaters. Casinos can be found worldwide and range in size from small, intimate locales to the sprawling Las Vegas mega-resorts.
While gambling in some form almost certainly predates written history, the modern casino as a place to find a wide variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats would gather at places called ridotti for parties and social events [Source: Schwartz]. These venues were often technically illegal, but the crowds of rich patrons kept police out of sight and earshot, and casinos grew rapidly.
Today’s casinos make their money largely from slot machines, which provide a level of play that is virtually pure luck — the player puts in some money and either pulls a handle or pushes a button; the varying bands of colored shapes roll past on reels (whether real physical ones or video representations), and if the right pattern appears, the winner is awarded a predetermined amount of money. Casinos also earn significant profits from the vig, or house edge, built into each game.
The biggest casinos are in cities that are primarily tourist destinations, such as Las Vegas and Macau, where visitors from all over the world come to try their luck. But there are also casinos in smaller towns and cities, such as the Rio Casino Resort in Klerksdorp, South Africa, which is a bit of a departure from the usual casino experience.