A casino is a place where people can gamble by playing games of chance. It is a large business, generating billions of dollars in profits each year. While musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers help draw customers to casinos, the bulk of the money is made from the various gambling games themselves: blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and slots.

Although gambling probably predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find a variety of ways to wager under one roof did not develop until the 16th century. In that era, the gambling craze was led by the Italian aristocracy, who met in private venues called ridotti to play their favorite games. Though technically illegal, the aristocrats were seldom bothered by authorities in their quest for the thrill of victory.

Every game that a casino offers has built in it a mathematical advantage for the house. This may be as low as two percent, but it can add up over the millions of bets placed each day by casino patrons. This edge, known as the vig or rake, is what gives casinos enough cash to build elaborate hotels, giant pyramids and towers, and replicas of famous landmarks.

To reduce the edge that games of chance give to the house, a casino must be careful how it sets its rules. This is why the mathematicians and computer programmers who analyze gaming math are a critical part of any casino staff.