A casino is an entertainment venue that primarily features games of chance. While musical shows, lighted fountains and lavish hotels help draw in the crowds, the vast majority of the billions of dollars that casinos make every year comes from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and keno are just a few of the many popular games.
While gambling almost certainly predates recorded history (astragali, cut knuckle bones and carved six-sided dice have been found at archaeological sites), the modern casino as a place for people to find a variety of different ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century. At that time, Venice was at the center of a gambling craze and the city’s government sanctioned the first casino, called the Ridotto, which featured rooms for primitive card games and a variety of food and drinks.
Today most casinos offer comps, or complimentary items, to encourage gamblers to spend more time and money playing their games. These perks include free hotel rooms, discounted meals and show tickets. Many casinos also have clubs that function like airline frequent-flyer programs and tally points that players can redeem for cash or free slot play.
Most people think of Las Vegas when they hear the word casino, and the city has many options. But other cities around the world have casinos, too. Many of them feature the same games as those in Las Vegas, but with a local flavor. For example, Asian casinos usually feature traditional Far Eastern games, such as sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow.