A casino is a gambling establishment that offers a wide variety of ways to gamble. Slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette and craps are some of the games that provide billions in profits to casinos each year. Musical shows, lighted fountains and luxurious hotels help draw visitors, but casinos would not exist without the games of chance.
Gambling probably began with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice, but the modern casino as a place to find a multitude of gambling activities under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Rich Italian nobles created gaming clubs called ridotti, where they could play a wide range of games in private without being bothered by legal authorities.
In modern times, casinos use advanced technology to monitor their operations. Security cameras watch the floor of all games and the patrons who play them. Casinos also have catwalks that allow surveillance personnel to look directly down, through one-way glass, on the table and slot machine areas. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover any statistical deviations from their expected results. Casinos are increasingly using computers to manage their operations, too.
Most casinos make money by charging a percentage of the total amount bet at each game, which is known as the house edge or vig. This can be a small amount (less than two percent) or a large sum, depending on how the games are played and how much money is bet. In the United States, casinos earn most of their income from slot machines and video poker, where the house edge is lower than on other games.