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A casino, also known as a gambling house, is a facility for certain types of gambling. Modern casinos are often large, luxurious places that offer a wide variety of games and entertainment options for patrons. These are sometimes combined with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other tourist attractions. In the United States, there are around 51 million people who visit casinos domestically. The casinos provide employment for over 15 percent of those employed in the gaming industry and generate billions in profits each year.

Although gambling probably predates written history, the modern casino grew out of the 16th century gambling craze that swept Europe. The Italian aristocracy built private clubs, called ridotti, where they would gather to gamble and socialize in elegant surroundings. The concept caught on and soon casinos were springing up all over the world.

Most casino games have a built-in advantage for the house that is designed into the game’s rules. This advantage, referred to as the house edge, represents the average gross profit the casino expects to make on each bet placed by a player.

Because of this built-in advantage, the house usually does not lose money over a long period of time. The advantage is balanced by other sources of income for the casino, such as tips given to dealers and a small percentage of revenue from video poker machines. To maximize profits, casinos design their games to attract the most profitable patrons and keep them coming back. This includes offering luxuries such as free drinks, stage shows and lavish hotel rooms.