Located in exotic locales around the world, casino are places where patrons can find a variety of gambling activities under one roof. While many casinos feature restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and other luxuries that help to draw in customers, they would not exist without the games of chance that generate the billions in profits they rake in each year. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps provide the lion’s share of the revenue for casinos.

Gambling probably predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in some archaeological sites [Source: Schwartz]. The modern casino as a place where gamblers can find a range of games under one roof is thought to have emerged in the 16th century during a gambling craze that swept Italy. Italian aristocrats created private clubs known as ridotti where they could socialize while playing their favorite casino games, and the idea spread from there.

Today the casino is a global phenomenon, with the United States leading the way in terms of number of facilities. The Las Vegas Valley houses the largest concentration, followed by Atlantic City and then Chicago. Casinos have also become a major tourist attraction in the Caribbean and South Africa.

The modern casino offers a wide variety of gaming options, from classic table games such as baccarat to Asian favorites like sic bo and fan-tan. Some of the more unusual casino games that can be found include two-up, pai gow and banca francesa. Many casinos also offer poker in the form of a regular game or tournaments. In general, the casino makes money by charging a commission to dealers and a fee to players who use the tables. In addition, they may dispense “comps” to good patrons, such as hotel rooms, meals and show tickets.