A casino is a place where games of chance and skill are played. It can be as massive as a Las Vegas resort or as small as a card room. Regardless of the size, casinos are all about the same thing: gambling.
Although gambling almost certainly predates recorded history (as evidenced by primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites), the casino as we know it today is relatively new. It emerged in the United States around the turn of the 20th century as a way to draw in tourists and generate revenue for local businesses. Today, casinos earn billions of dollars a year for their owners, investors, corporations, and Native American tribes, as well as state and local governments in taxes and fees.
Most casinos have a wide range of amenities to lure in patrons and keep them coming back. They feature restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. They are usually brightly lit and designed to be pleasing to the eyes. They are also often noisy, with the clang of coins falling and the shouts of players. Many have catwalks on the ceiling that allow security personnel to look directly down through one-way glass at the tables and slots.
Casinos make huge profits by leveraging the mathematical expectancy of winning or losing on each game. They reward big bettors with free spectacular entertainment and elegant living quarters, while lowering the house edge on smaller wagers. Some even offer reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms to frequent gamblers.