A casino, or gaming hall, is a building where people can gamble and play games of chance. Often, casinos are also places to socialize and dine, with restaurants, bars, and live entertainment. Many of the world’s most famous casinos are located in glamorous cities, such as Las Vegas and Monaco. Others are more exotic, such as the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany’s black forest. Some, like the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, date back more than a century and have had a high-profile patronage that includes royalty and aristocracy.

A large percentage of casino revenues come from gambling. While casino games may have existed for millennia, the concept of a central gambling facility did not emerge until the 16th century. At that time, a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian aristocrats frequently held private parties in houses called ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. Although they were technically illegal, these ‘ridotti’ allowed wealthy patrons to gamble without fear of being caught.

Despite their popularity, most gamblers lose money. This is because every casino game has a built in advantage for the house, which can be as low as two percent. Over time, this edge can add up to significant profits. To offset this, casinos offer their guests perks such as free drinks and food while they gamble, discounted travel packages, hotel rooms, and even private jets for the very wealthy. Most casinos focus on attracting and keeping high rollers because they spend the most, and often return to gamble for additional funds.