Whether it’s poker, blackjack, roulette or the latest video slot machines, casinos are big business. They rake in billions of dollars a year for the corporations, investors and Native American tribes that operate them and for local governments that tax them. But casinos also provide a lot of entertainment that goes beyond gambling. Musical shows, lighted fountains and shopping centers all help draw visitors to the casino floor. And a host of amenities — including free drinks and cigarettes while gambling — are designed to keep people in the game.

But casinos are in the business of making money, and the only way to do that is to lure people into spending it. That’s why successful casinos offer perks to “good” players, called comps. These include free rooms, meals and tickets to shows and other events. Some casinos even offer limo service and airline tickets for big spenders.

While some casinos feature Asian games such as sic bo and fan-tan, most focus on Western casino favorites such as craps, baccarat, video poker and blackjack. These games are played at tables with other players and the atmosphere is noisy and boisterous.

Many European casinos are designed in the elegant Belle Epoch style reminiscent of ornate French palaces, including the famous Casino Baden-Baden in southwestern Germany, which was praised by German actress Marlene Dietrich as “the most beautiful casino in the world.” In America, however, slot machines and video poker attract most gamblers. Their income is based on the ability to rapidly play small sums of money at a fast pace, resulting in high turnover and large profits.