A Casino is a place where people can gamble on games of chance or skill, and where patrons pay a fee to play. The etymology of the word is unclear, but the concept dates back to ancient times, with primitive proto-dice and carved six-sided dice among the oldest archaeological finds [Source: Schwartz]. Modern casinos began appearing in Europe in the second half of the 20th century, often on riverboats or in places like Monte Carlo that were open to the public. Some American states amended their laws in the 1980s to permit casinos, and a few have them on Indian reservations.

In the United States, the largest casinos are in Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City. The elegant spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany also has a famous casino, and many European cities have casinos as well.

The most profitable games at a casino are slots and video poker machines, which pay out a percentage of funds placed on them. Roulette and blackjack draw big bettors in Europe, where the houses lower their edges to less than one percent to entice them. In America, craps and baccarat generate substantial profits.

In addition to the games themselves, casinos earn millions from vigorish or rake, which is the house’s commission on bets placed by players. They also use elaborate surveillance systems to keep track of what’s happening in their gambling rooms, and the patterned behavior of players, reactions and motions help security staff spot unusual activity.