A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. It may be a standalone building or it may be part of a hotel, resort, or restaurant. Some casinos host live entertainment, such as stand-up comedy, concerts, or sports. Some casinos are also known for their upscale shopping and dining experiences.

While gambling certainly predates recorded history – primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice have been found in archaeological digs – the casino as a central gathering place for various forms of gambling did not develop until the 16th century, when a gambling craze swept Europe and Italian nobles would hold private parties at their houses called ridotti. These were technically illegal, but authorities rarely bothered with them [Source: Schwartz].

Casinos are notoriously profitable, earning billions of dollars each year, thanks to their built-in house edge. This edge is not as large as the house advantage on horse races or the vig on video poker, but it adds up over millions of bets. To maximize profits, casinos often have a team of mathematicians and computer programmers who calculate the house edge for every game in the casino.

In the early 20th century, real estate developers and hotel chains realized the potential of casinos, buying out mob-owned establishments to run their own. Federal crackdowns and the risk of losing a gaming license at any hint of mob involvement keep most legitimate casino businesses free of Mafia interference.