A casino is a facility for gambling. It has a number of luxuries, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, to attract gamblers. It also enforces rules to prevent cheating and theft.

Gambling in some form probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice among the earliest archaeological finds [Source: Schwartz]. However, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of gaming opportunities under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, during a period of intense gambling crazes across Europe. Even though gambling was technically illegal, many aristocrats held private parties in places known as ridotti to indulge in their favorite pastime.

While casinos have long benefited from their location near waterfronts and major highways, they are increasingly appearing in cities that don’t have access to water. These newer casinos often include hotel towers, shopping areas and entertainment venues. They may also be built on Indian reservations, which are not subject to state antigambling laws.

Casinos make money by accepting bets on games with a built-in advantage for the house. The advantage may be small, typically less than two percent, but the casino’s mathematical expectation of winning on every game means that it will, on average, collect millions in bets. To calculate the expected return to a player, casinos employ mathematicians and computer programmers who specialize in this field. They also know how to spot unusual patterns in play and can detect when a gambler is colluding with a dealer.