Whether you play on a daily basis or have only visited a few times in your life, casinos have an undeniable feeling of, “we’re seeing a lot, but we’re not seeing it all.”
The enigma of casinos has led to a certain air of mystery. In many cases, some of the most commonly believed notions about casinos are actually false, while the truth is most commonly known by those who have worked in the industry.
In this article, I’ll get into some of these notions that have made their way into the culture, then I’ll explain what’s true and what is not.
Fact: Casinos Want You to Lose Track of Time
Everyone has heard, at some point or another, that land based casinos don’t include any windows or clocks in their building. Not only that, but the reason is so you completely lose your sense of time altogether, leading you to gamble for long periods of time without taking breaks.
It turns out this one is true! And the fact that many casinogoers know about it does not stop it from still being a very effective form of manipulation.
Without the sun to indicate that the day is in fact moving, or clocks to remind you that your wife got home two hours ago, people can get quite lost in a gambling session. Now, obviously just about everyone has access to a timepiece right in their pocket via phone, but seeing numbers on a screen doesn’t quite have the same impact as seeing it go from light outside to dark.
Fiction: Casinos Pump in Oxygen
I can’t say how this one got started, but it’s one of the most widely-believed myths about casinos that just won’t seem to die. No, casinos do not circulate extra oxygen throughout the air inside the casino.
First of all, the reasons why casinos don’t use this tactic, which supposedly would make guests feel more alert, is because it would break every fire code imaginable. Fire thrives on oxygen, and adding more to the air would be akin to pouring gas on a flame.
Second, casinos have no way of knowing potential health problems that guests might have. Adding oxygen might actually help in some cases, but in others, it could cause unknown problems. The casino does not need that on their list of things to deal with.
The bottom line is that the risk of burning the casino down is simply not worth the benefit of a few extra dollars. The next time your friends try to drop this knowledge on you, make a bet that they’re wrong and you could start the day with a few extra dollars in your bankroll. You’re welcome.
Fact: Casinos Are Laid Out in a Specific Way
What does the local chain grocery store have in common with the casino downtown? They’re both laid out in a specific way that is designed to maximize profits.
Casinos use psychological tricks in a way that aims to make the bettor feel comfortable, meaning not having an eye on the door at all times. I won’t say they’re made to be a labyrinth of sorts, but that isn’t far from the truth. Casino builders want you to get swallowed up in the action and feel good doing it.
Another way casinos look to use the gaming floor design to their advantage is by making the games with the worst odds the most noticeable. For example, if you walk around you can’t help but notice the flashing lights seen on games like Big Six and other low-odds video slot machines.
Obviously the responsibility falls on the gambler to make the right decisions about what games to play and how long to play them, but in a way, it’s a battle of wills between house and player that often goes unnoticed.
If you find yourself wandering around the casino looking for a game to play, keep in mind that the ones that stand out are noticeable for a reason. They’re probably going to take your money.
Fiction: Casino Machines Are Rigged
When you lose a hand in blackjack or watch as the roulette ball lands on black instead of red, you can accept that you just got unlucky. However, when the dealer in video blackjack seems to be hitting 21 at a high rate, it might feel like something else is at play.
It can be difficult to accept that losses in video based casino games, such as video poker, 21, roulette, or slot machines are legitimate. I mean, how easy would it be to program them in such a way that ensures they’ll always come out ahead?
The reasons are plenty when it comes to why a casino would not want to manipulate their games to have a better outcome for the house. The penalties for doing this are severe, and the hit to a casino’s reputation might be irreparable. Nobody is going to want to play at the casino that has knowingly cheated guests in the past.
Casinos have strict rules and regulations surrounding their video offerings, so the next time you lose, the only person you have to blame is the random number generator that seems to be extra lucky that day.
Fiction: You’ll Get Arrested for Card Counting
If you’ve ever watched the movie 21 or Rain Man, it’s likely that you’ve considered counting cards. At the same time, you’ve also probably wondered what the consequences of that would be if you were to get caught.
Somewhat surprisingly, card counting isn’t technically illegal. It certainly won’t get you thrown in jail or punished in a legal sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely free of consequence.
As you would expect, casinos don’t want their gamblers counting cards and getting an edge on the house, but they aren’t going to dedicate a ton of time and resources to preventing the practice (unless you’re really making a ton of money). However, people get caught all the time because it’s hard to keep a straight face while doing it.
The worst you can expect is probably a stern, but fair, talking to by the casino staff. They might kick you out for the day, suggest you don’t come back and play there again, or may just tell you not to do it anymore.
Each establishment differs when it comes to how they handle card-counters, but one thing is for sure—the vast majority of them go undetected.
Fact: You Can Ban Yourself
I can’t say how frequently this unique law is invoked, but the fact that it even exists is interesting enough in itself. Casinos will actually allow you to ban yourself, and can enforce it through legal means.
Gambling addicts are relatively common in casinos, just as much as alcoholics are in bars. Through the program, known as “Voluntary Exclusion,” addicts can force casinos to not let them come in and gamble.
While it’s hard to know if this has had a positive impact on the lives of those who gamble compulsively, in my opinion, it’s a good step. Let this be a reminder that gambling can become a problem, and if you see things heading that direction in your own life, use the gambling addiction resources at your disposal to help.
The inner workings of casinos will always remain somewhat enigmatic to those on the outside, but hopefully this article shed some light on separating myth from reality.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of casinos and how they function today, there are a number of resources that hold these insights. I encourage everyone to learn about what makes casinos tick, because it’s certainly not a clock!