A casino is a place where people can play games of chance for money. Although modern casinos have a lot of glitz, like stage shows, shopping centers and luxury hotels, they wouldn’t exist without games of chance, which bring in the billions of dollars in profits that keep them open. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and craps are among the most popular casino games that use a combination of luck and skill to determine winning or losing bets.

Gambling has been part of human civilization for millennia, with evidence of dice in 2300 BC and playing cards in the 1400s. While mobsters ran many early casinos, real estate investors and hotel chains bought them out and began to run them legitimately. Mobsters still run underground operations, but federal crackdowns and the threat of losing a gaming license at the slightest hint of mob involvement mean that most casinos are owned by large companies.

To keep their profits high, casino owners study the odds of various games to make sure that the house doesn’t lose too much money in any one game. They also hire mathematicians to calculate the expected value (or house edge) for different games, and variance, which accounts for the fluctuations in the amount of money that players win or lose on a given game. These numbers help them decide how much to rake in as a percentage of total wagers and how much to invest in equipment and staff.