A casino is a gambling establishment, which includes a building or room where various forms of gambling are offered. These places are often combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants and shopping areas and may offer a variety of live entertainment. In some cases, casinos specialize in specific types of gambling games, such as poker or horse racing. A casino is also known as a gaming house or a gambling den.
Gambling probably existed as early as primitive protodice and carved knuckle bones, but the modern casino did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe. Italian aristocrats would gather in private clubs, called ridotti to gamble and socialize, but these were technically illegal [Source: Schwartz]. Public casinos began to appear in the 1800s as state legislatures changed gambling laws to allow them.
Casinos make money by offering their patrons a mathematical expectancy of winning, which is known as the house edge. This advantage can be as small as less than two percent, but over time it adds up, making the casino the winner. Casinos use this revenue to pay out winnings and cover operating expenses. They also use it to attract big bettors and offer them inducements, such as free spectacular entertainment, luxury living quarters, reduced-fare transportation and hotel rooms.
While casinos are popular with tourists, they have negative economic effects in the communities where they are located. For example, they divert local spending from other types of recreation and can lower home values. They also contribute to the development of gambling addiction and erode family and community ties.