A casino is a place where gambling games are played. The modern casino offers a wide variety of games, including slots, blackjack, craps and roulette. Although casinos add a host of extras to attract customers, they wouldn’t exist without games of chance. These games are what generate the billions of dollars in profits that casinos bring in every year.

Gambling has probably been around for thousands of years, with primitive protodice (cut knuckle bones) and carved six-sided dice found in the oldest archaeological sites. But the idea of a single place where people could try their luck at a multitude of games didn’t really take hold until the 16th century, when a gambling craze in Europe pushed many Italian aristocrats into setting up private clubs called ridotti.

Most of these early clubs were simply small rooms where people gathered to play poker, billiards and similar games. Then a new type of game came along: slot machines. These mechanical devices could be manipulated more easily than their hand-held predecessors, and soon the new games were booming in popularity.

These days, a casino is often a gleaming complex with hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and stage shows. But the basic concept is still the same: people gather to gamble and hopefully win.

While mobsters may have once run the show, the casinos of today are often owned by real estate and hotel chains with deep pockets. Mob involvement is still possible, but federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a license at even the slightest hint of Mafia ties keep the mobsters away from the real money.