Casinos, from the glittering mega-resorts in Las Vegas to seedy backroom gambling parlors in New York’s Chinatown, are places where people can gamble on a variety of games of chance and sometimes even compete against each other for cash prizes. These establishments are also known for their luxuries, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows and dramatic scenery. Gambling has been around for millennia, with archeological evidence of wooden blocks being used to play dice as early as 2300 BC in China. The first modern casinos added a level of sophistication to the games, with sophisticated tables and rules that allowed for more complicated betting and winning strategies.

Although it is not certain how many people visit casinos, it is clear that they are a popular attraction. The average American visitor to a casino is a forty-six year old woman from a household with above-average income. The vast majority of visitors are tourists and their spending – on food, drink and other amenities – makes the casinos very profitable.

The casinos make their money from the house edge, which is a mathematically determined profit that is built into the odds of each game. This profit, usually no more than two percent of the total bets made by patrons, is earned over the long term from millions of bets and allows the casinos to finance extravagant hotels and fountains, giant pyramids and towers, and a variety of other attractions. In games that involve some degree of skill, such as blackjack and poker, the casinos earn a commission, or rake, on the money wagered by players.

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