The word casino has a variety of meanings, but the most common is an establishment where gambling takes place. While casinos often add elaborate extras to attract guests, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows, the bulk of their revenue is generated from games of chance like slot machines, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps.
While gambling certainly predates recorded history, it was not consolidated into the casino form until the 16th century during a European gaming craze when wealthy aristocrats would hold private parties at their homes known as ridotti [Source: Schwartz]. These private clubs allowed them to play a variety of games under one roof and avoid the prying eyes of the Italian Inquisition.
Today’s casino is a sophisticated edifice, with high-end restaurants and accommodations, state-of-the-art surveillance systems and breath-taking art installations. These temples of temptation are decked out with opulent furnishings and overflowing bars, making them a destination for both casual gamblers and high-stakes players. Some of these casinos have become so famous that they are recognized worldwide. The Bellagio in Las Vegas is perhaps the most recognizable, thanks to its dazzling fountain show and appearances in movies such as Ocean’s 11.
Gambling may be a game of chance, but it is also a game of skill. Learning basic strategy for a game such as blackjack can reduce the casino’s edge to less than 1% and improve your chances of winning. Some gamblers even learn advanced strategies that allow them to control the odds, such as counting cards in blackjack. While this isn’t against the rules, it’s not recommended and some casinos will kick you out for using this method.