The casino is a place where games of chance are played and money is won and lost. While music and stage shows, restaurants and free drinks help draw in visitors, casinos would not exist without the gambling activities that make them profitable. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.

While the idea of a casino is rooted in ancient times, modern casinos have taken on a glamorous air with their glitzy hotels and elaborate themes. But behind the glamour is the math: Every game in a casino has a built in statistical advantage for the house. That advantage can be as low as two percent, but it adds up over millions of bets and allows casinos to build their fountains, pyramids and towers.

Gambling is a popular pastime, but it has been associated with many social problems. Studies show that compulsive gamblers cause more damage to their families and communities than they generate in casino profits. They also divert spending from other forms of entertainment and hurt property values in the local housing market, reversing any economic gains a casino might produce for its host community.

The world’s most famous casino is in Las Vegas, but you can find a few other examples around the globe. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany was a playground for European royalty and aristocracy 150 years ago, and it has an extravagantly outfitted casino still visited by tourists. London’s glitzy Empire in Leicester Square and the three floor Victoria in Paddington are among other notable casinos in England. The Venetian in Macau, east Asia’s version of Las Vegas, is the largest casino on Earth.