A casino is a place where champagne glasses clink and locals, tourists and players mingle. It’s a place where people try their luck at games like poker, roulette and blackjack, all while enjoying an electric atmosphere and the thrill of predicting whether their next spin is going to be a winner or loser.
While gambling likely predates recorded history, the casino as a place where patrons could find many ways to gamble under one roof did not appear until the 16th century. That was when a gambling craze swept Europe and rich Italian aristocrats hosted private parties called ridotti in their villas to play baccarat, gin rummy and other gambling games. Although technically illegal, the aristocrats rarely got into trouble because the games were not as random as they are now.
Today, casinos make a good deal of money by charging a small percentage of all bets to their customers. This charge is known as the vig or rake, and it gives the casino a built in advantage of about two percent. That edge allows the casinos to pay out winning bets quickly and keep them coming back to play.
Some casinos also make a lot of money by offering free things to their best players, known as comps. These include free hotel rooms, meals, tickets to shows and even airline and limo service for big spenders. The idea is to encourage a steady flow of business, as it is very difficult for a casino to survive without new patrons.