A casino is a gambling establishment that provides a variety of games of chance. Although casinos have many luxuries like restaurants, entertainment and shopping centers that help them draw in patrons, the vast majority of their profits come from gambling. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other games of chance generate billions of dollars in profits for casino owners every year.

Gambling predates recorded history and primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) have been found in archaeological digs, but the modern casino as a place where people could find all sorts of ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century when gambling crazes swept Europe. Aristocrats gathered at “ridotti” (private clubs) to play cards and other games of chance; technically, these venues were illegal but rarely bothered by the authorities [Source: Schwartz].

In America casinos began to pop up on American Indian reservations during the 1980s as a way for those who couldn’t afford travel to Atlantic City or Las Vegas to enjoy some gambling action. Unlike their European counterparts, most American casinos are heavily regulated and have very high levels of security to prevent cheating.

Most states have laws requiring that casinos display responsible gambling information and provide contact details for organizations that can offer specialized support to problem gamblers. It’s also worth noting that gambling addiction is a very real concern, with studies showing that compulsive gambling generates a disproportionate share of casino profits and can cause social problems in the lives of those affected.