We’ve all been there: Stroll into a Luxor or Mohegan Sun or Tropicana with your wallet stuffed with cash, ready for an enjoyable round of sensible gambling and maybe two rounds of drinks. But before you know it, you’re leaving with a lighter wallet than when you walked in and no clue what happened to your money. The truth is, casinos are masters of manipulating their patrons. They use sounds, lights and physical design to create an environment that’s both welcoming and hard to walk away from. Here are nine tricks they employ to keep you in their clutches.
1. Bright lights and loud sounds.
Casinos use lights and sounds to entice gamblers, distracting them from the fact that they’re actually losing money hand over fist. When someone hits a big jackpot on a slot machine, cheers erupt and bright lights flash to celebrate the win. These celebrations can make other players feel like they’re also going to hit it big, which in turn gives them a false sense of hope that keeps them pressing their luck.
2. The house always wins.
Every game at a casino is designed to give the house an edge. In fact, it’s rare for a single patron to leave a casino with more than he or she entered with, even if the game he or she plays is not his or her favorite. Because of this, it is important for casinos to have a large variety of games that appeal to all types of people and encourage them to continue playing.
3. Casinos offer free shows, hotel rooms and transportation to big bettors.
The idea of a casino came from Italy, where small, private clubs for Italians to gather and socialize began to spring up around the country after larger public gaming houses were banned. Over time, the concept spread across Europe, and most modern casino games were invented in France. Some modern casinos also offer free spectacular entertainment, hotel rooms and limousine service to their big bettors, who are known as “comps.”
4. Casinos encourage cheating and stealing.
The casino business is full of shady characters, many of whom are willing to cheat, steal or even kill to get their hands on some winnings. Casinos are often able to spot such behavior by monitoring security cameras in high-tech surveillance rooms. Security personnel can adjust these cameras to zoom in on suspicious patrons and review the footage after the fact to catch criminal activity.
5. Casinos make their bathrooms far from the door.
Despite the fact that casinos want gamblers to spend as much time as possible in their establishments, they don’t put restrooms near the gaming tables or machines. That’s because the closer you are to a game, the more likely you are to press your luck. It’s a simple trick that can have a huge impact on your gambling habits.
Martin Scorsese’s 1995 movie Casino made a huge splash, partly because it starred Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci—the stars of Goodfellas—and partly because the story was so bleak and violent. But it’s not nostalgia for the shady underworld of the ’70s that drives Casino; rather, it’s a skepticism about what Vegas has become.