A casino, also known as a gaming hall or a gambling establishment, is a building or room where people can play various games of chance for money or other prizes. Some casinos are standalone facilities, while others are combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping or cruise ships. Casinos are most famous for their gambling-related activities, but they sometimes offer other entertainment as well.
The precise origin of gambling is unknown, but it is widely believed that it has existed in almost every society throughout history. Gambling in a modern sense is generally accepted to have begun in the 16th century, with the first formal gambling house being opened in Venice in 1638.
Casinos make money by charging a percentage of each bet placed to cover the costs of running the facility and paying out winning bettors. This percentage, called the vig or rake, can vary widely based on the game played and the rules established by the casino. For example, a table game like blackjack usually has a house edge of about two percent.
In addition to vig, casinos also profit from “comps” or complimentary goods and services given to high rollers. These can include free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows or even limo service and airline tickets. Because of the large amounts of money handled within a casino, both patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion with each other or on their own. To combat this, casinos employ a variety of security measures.