A casino is a gambling establishment, usually combined with a hotel and often with restaurants, theaters, retail stores and other tourist attractions. In addition to slot machines and table games, casinos offer other types of gambling such as sports betting and horse racing. Casinos are also known for giving out complimentary goods and services (known as comps) to high rollers, which may include free rooms, meals and show tickets.
The earliest known casino dates from the 16th century, when European noblemen held private parties in gambling houses called ridotti. Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at many archaeological sites. But the idea of a single facility where people could find a variety of ways to gamble under one roof did not develop until the gambling craze swept Europe in the 1600s, and wealthy Italian aristocrats created their own clubs called ridotti.
Casinos make money by charging a percentage of bets to patrons. This is called the vig or rake, and can be anywhere from less than two percent to more than five percent, depending on the game and how it is played. In games where the house has a built in advantage, like baccarat, roulette, blackjack and poker, this is the only way the casino can make money.
The top casinos are lavish temples of temptation, decked out with opulent decor and dazzling chandeliers. They have a wide range of table games and slot machines, as well as white-tablecloth restaurants. A few offer live entertainment and a nightclub or dance floor.