The word casino carries many different connotations for those who love to wager. It can be a lavish place with lots of flashing lights, high-definition screens and even a Cirque de Soleil show, or it can simply be a gambling establishment that offers a variety of games of chance.
The history of casinos goes back to the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Until then, gambling took place in private clubs known as ridotti, or in public venues such as the taverns and inns that lined the streets of ancient cities [Source: Schwartz].
A modern casino has far more than just slot machines, table games and dice. They also feature restaurants, theaters and shopping centers to help draw in crowds. But the most important thing is the gaming floor, where people can gamble and test their luck. The most profitable casinos in the world generate billions of dollars each year from the millions of bets they accept.
Almost all casino games have a built in advantage for the house, which can be as small as a couple of percent or as large as two to three percent. To compensate, casinos offer a wide range of incentives to keep players happy. This can include free food and drink, complimentary limo service, rooms and tickets to shows.
The largest casinos in the world are often built as integrated resorts and feature a mix of gaming and non-gaming activities. These mega-resorts may have over 100,000 square feet of gaming space and host top pop, rock, jazz and other artists to entertain guests.