A casino is a building that houses gambling activities. Modern casinos are extravagant places that feature restaurants, nightclubs and stage shows in addition to slot machines and tables games like blackjack and poker. They are often located near or combined with hotels, shopping centers and cruise ships. Casinos are regulated and audited by government agencies to ensure that they are operating legally. Casinos also spend a lot of money on security to prevent cheating and other problems.

Gambling likely predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in some archaeological sites [Source: Poley]. But it wasn’t until the 16th century that a variety of ways to gamble were brought together under one roof. That was when the concept of the casino emerged, with aristocrats gathering in private clubs called ridotti to enjoy their favorite games of chance.

While casino amenities like lighted fountains, theaters and shopping malls attract visitors, a casino’s profits mostly come from gaming. Slot machines, table games such as blackjack, roulette and craps and other games of chance provide the billions in profits that a casino can turn over annually.

While many people who visit a casino don’t have any problem gambling habits, some do develop addictions. A large percentage of casino gambling revenues are derived from high rollers, who bet huge sums of money to win big jackpots. Problem gambling is a serious issue, and casinos are required by state law to include responsible gambling information and contact details as part of their licensing conditions.