A casino is an establishment for gambling, especially a place where people can bet on games of chance. Some casinos also have dining and other entertainment options. Some casinos are built as part of hotels, resorts, cruise ships or other tourist attractions.
Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice turning up in archaeological sites. But the modern casino as a place to find all manner of games under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, during a gambling craze that swept Europe. Italian aristocrats gathered at small private gambling houses called ridotti to play cards and other games. Unlike public gaming halls, ridotti were not subject to the authority of the Inquisition.
Casinos make money by charging players for drinks, food and – most importantly – gaming time. They do this by calculating odds and taking a percentage of the total amount wagered by players, known as the house edge. In addition, some casinos reward “good” players with free goods or services (such as hotel rooms and dinners) by assessing their play and offering them comps.
Mobster-run casinos once dominated the industry, but as real estate investors and hotel chains saw how much money they could make from casinos, they bought out the mobsters. Today, legitimate businesses run the vast majority of casinos around the world. However, the mob’s presence is still felt in some places. Mobsters own a number of casinos, but federal crackdowns on organized crime mean they’re not as welcome as they once were.