10 Tricks Casinos Use On You

Casinos are a psychological minefield. Their architectural design, as well as everything in it, has a methodical purpose devised to keep you, the player, inside spending your money. Some tactics they use are as prominent as the nose on your face, while others are guile and subtle. However, they all play on the players’ psyche and make them feel comfortable, wanted, and most of all optimistic. Following are ten maneuvers casinos use that keep them rising and falling in our money.

10. Additional oxygen

Additional oxygen

Breathe in gradually, now breathe out. Do you feel more refreshed? Higher levels of oxygen keep us awake and alert; one of the disputed theories for why we yawn while tired is that it is in order to draw in more oxygen. Sleepy gamblers might feel like they should head home and have a nap, and snoozing gamblers aren’t giving any money to the casino. So the casinos pump in additional oxygen from pressurized tanks so that the gamblers feel refreshed, awake and able to gamble for longer. There have even been reports that some casinos release aroma that promote feelings of euphoria or comfort, bringing the addictive nature of gambling to new heights.

9. Near misses

Near misses

There’s nothing worse than almost winning. At least when you are noticeably a complete and utter loser you can take comfort in the fact that there was no other possible outcome. But when you win silver, you can see that gold is within your grasp and are likely to keep on going. Casinos are well aware of this flaw in human nature, and exploit it so that they can keep siphon your money into their pockets. From slot machine cherries that repeatedly fail to line up by just one symbol, to those one-armed bandits that are programmed to pay out a paltry sum of money every so often in order to entice you back, the casinos exploit the pull of near wins to blandish you to give it just one more try.

8. Food and drinks

Food and drinks

The nice casino waitress who is constantly flutter in the background in case you would like some food or drink is not actually very nice after all. The goal of the casino is to keep you gambling until they have bled you dry and then to lure you back again. Hungry people might stop gambling and sober people might make wise decisions like, “Maybe I won’t just put it all on black.” In many cases your food and booze isn’t just brought to you; it is completely free, building an association in your mind between freebies and the casino. Of course the ridicule is that you’ve probably paid for your food ten times over in gambling losses, but, for many, the feeling in another reason not to leave.

7. Psychedelic carpets

Psychedelic carpets

When Oscar Wilde died, among his finals words were: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” The interior design-minded playwright could almost have been referring to casino carpets. At first you might assume that the garish patterns and discord colors of the casino floor coverings are simply there to hide stains from spilled food and drink – or perhaps other bodily fluids.

6. No time indicators

No time indicators

The casino is a perfectly oiled machine within which time has little meaning. The lights never dim and the party never stops. After a session of gambling it could just as easily be the next hour or the next day. Any means by which gamblers might be reminded that they have responsibilities, duties and a life outside of the casino is absent. There are no clocks at which to glance and realize that it is time to go, and once away from the entrance no windows which could become light or dark with the passing of the sun, provoking an internal sense of time. Within the casino there is only an ever-present now that stretches and recoils with the wins – and the losses.

5. Mild, looping, hypnotic music

Mild, looping, hypnotic music

Background music with defined beginnings and ends would allow gamblers to unconsciously chart the flow of time, but no music at all would permit patrons to become aware of their environment – all the little noises of other gamblers and staff constantly bringing them back to reality from their gambler’s hallucination and reminding them that they are rapidly running out of cash. Profound reflection is anathema to the casinos, so they loop a constant mild music with no sharp crescendos sudden diminuendos or pulsing bass notes. The music aids the gambler in entering a trance-like state where there is nothing but the game – filling the casino’s pockets.

4. Maze-like internal layouts

Maze-like internal layouts

If you do manage to keep money in your pocket on the way out of the building, you reach another mystification – which way is the way out? Casinos are deliberately designed to have as confusing a layout as possible such that you must traverse a labyrinth in order to attempt to leave.

3. Cashier desk trickery

Cashier desk trickery

So, you’ve decided it’s time to go and, resisting the urge to risk a few more bucks again, you look for the cashier’s desk to cash out your chips. Of course, this desk is located right in the depths of the casino, past every possible opportunity for more gambling. When you finally make it there you are likely to see large lines for those who wish to exchange chips for cash. Nobody likes waiting in line, so why not gamble instead? And if you do wait in line and decide to put just one dollar into the slots on the way out, you’re likely be surprised to see that the cashier has cashed out your chips with the largest persuasion possible, so that one last gamble will cost you a five or a ten instead.

2. Stimulating lights and noises

Everyone likes a party and in the casino it is an endless festival with dancing girls, bright lights and music. We have been socially conditioned into believing that bright lights and noises indicate something of importance that flashing colors are a hallmark of success and that shine and sparkle are a stand-in for beauty and wealth. The casino machines constantly light up and flash, never content to stay at a single luminosity, always progressing and giving you the impression that winning is constant and all around you. Amidst all this excitement surely it will be your turn to win soon, we’re being told.

1. Subliminal messages in slot machines

Even those who find the casinos’ business model to be generally abhorrent and feel that they prey on the weak and vulnerable tend not to believe that they are actually evil. However, the fact that casinos have had to withdraw slot machines due to their use of subliminal messages should put paid to that belief. In some Canadian casinos, five-of-a-kind symbols were flashed on screen for a fraction of a second during play, aimed at convincing gamblers to stay at the machine, and increasing the feeling that they would hit the jackpot. It sounds like something from a conspiracy nut or tinfoil hat-wearing loon, but scarily it actually happened.