“Gambling: the sure way of getting nothing for something,” or so American playwright Wilson Mizner once said. While this may not be a universal truth, in real life, it’s almost always true. Gambling involves the wagering of money or something of value on a game or event which has an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning, and it is also considered to be one of the most insidious of human vices that can quickly lead a person down the path of financial ruin. The odds are rarely – if at all – ever in your favor, and when they are, it’s usually just an illusion to get you to gamble more.
The gambling industry has come a long way over the centuries that have passed, and now, various types of gambling activities are housed in a facility known as a “casino.” These casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping centers, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. And these facilities are also notorious for their efficiency, precision, and ingenuity of separating people from their money. And once you get inside one, that casino will make sure you’ve lost as much money as possible before they let you leave.
To possibly give players an advantage over the casinos, or for the sake of just evening the playing field, some casino experts over the years have shared some of the dirty little secrets that casinos don’t want people to know about. And here are a few of them.
THE ART OF SEDUCTION
First and foremost, it is important to always keep in mind that casinos are all about the art of seduction:
- Facility design intentionally leads you around;
- bright lights capture your attention;
- cheerful sounds make you think people are often winning;
- alluring scents making you want to stay and play
- All these are cleverly designed psychological schemes that seduce you to take more money out of your wallet.
Casino design is not only a matter of architecture and aesthetics; it’s psychological manipulation. It’s an intricate process that involves the optimization of a casino’s floor plan, décor and atmospherics to seduce people into gambling. For example, in Las Vegas, there are two typical hotel/casino designs: the classing “gaming” style, and the more modern “playground style.” The classic “gaming” style design emphasizes gaming décor above all else, from the facility’s low ceilings to its maze-like floor plans that somehow almost always lead you back to the casino. Casinos design with “playground” style, on the other hand, are spacious, open, airy and luxurious.
Inside a casino, time seemingly comes to a standstill. One in the morning is one in the afternoon and vice versa. Why? It’s because there aren’t any windows or clocks inside a casino to give you any indication that a significant amount of time has passed and that it’s time to stop. While there may be windows at the entrance or exit at these gambling facilities, once you walk further into the casino, you won’t get to see a single speck of daylight. When customers play a game of blackjack or pull the lever on a slot machine, time is wasted away much faster than they’re aware of, which is why casinos don’t place any clocks to tell you whether it’s time to sleep, eat, or leave before you lose what remains of your money.
SOME GAMES ARE BIGGER RIP-OFFS
Inside the casino, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that just about every game is tilted in the house’s favor. But according to casino experts, some gambling games rip people off more than others. There’s a reason why casinos usually place slot machines nearest to the entrance: they are more likely to make a lot of money for the house. Which is why if you do play inside a casino, you’re chances of success are much higher playing at the tables than trying your luck with the machines.
Novice gamblers prefer to play at the slot machines because they’re simple and require cheap minimums. However, because the game is speedy and randomized, it is more likely for players to lose more money than they win. Table games, on the other hand, are much slower-paced, giving players more time to strategize and contemplate making better and safer bets, especially when more players are gambling at a table.
Even at the tables, some games are worse than others. At the top of the list are what they call “carnival games,” which have high house advantages. On this list includes table games such as Let it Ride, Three-card poker, and Caribbean Stud. Double Exposure Blackjack, in particular, has over nine percent house advantage against gamers. So, if you plan on playing at the tables of a casino, it’s still best to stick to the traditional card games.
NOTHING IS FREE
Casinos are infamous for offering their guests an abundant number of exclusive perks and freebies. But inside these gambling facilities, nothing is ever really free of charge, even if they tell you otherwise. No matter how much free items they receive or complimentary drinks they drink, customers will still end up paying for what was given to them one way or another.
Some casinos offer their customers free parking, hotel stays, spa packages, tickets to shows, and even ringside seats for fights. However, these special perks are only given if you spend enough money playing in their establishment. There’s a one-to-one correlation between gambling and the rewards they offer, which means if they think you’re not playing enough, then you have to play more if you want to enjoy those complimentary drinks at the bar. If you want to eat, drink, and live like a high roller, then you have to play like a high roller.
And even if you are careful with your money, the house still finds a way to earn from their guests by charging them hidden fees they label as “resort fees” or “concession and franchise fees.” While it’s become the practice of many hotels all over the country to add surcharges onto bills to cover the rising utility costs and for the use of special amenities, like tennis courts and swimming pools, these surcharges are now extended to even the most ludicrous items. These establishments impose tax upon tax, adding fees to cover for the live entertainment, for the fact that the building is in a prime real estate location, and even for tap water.
‘BIG BROTHER’ WATCHES EVERYTHING
Casinos greedily rake in billions of dollars every year, which is why it is not surprising that their security is infamously tight. Minimizing cheating, theft and other potential losses is their top priority at all times. But of course, gone are the days where big mafia guys in slick suits beat people up for cheating. Since then, casino security has become more high-tech, with their owners spending millions of their billions to ensure the security of their vaults and the safety of their players.
Every gambling facility uses state-of-the-art closed-circuit television so that security will be able to monitor every square inch of the establishment. In fact, for a large venue like the MGM Grand, the venue is surveilled by more than 2,000 cameras which are connected to 50 monitors. With the level of technology at their disposal, they can even zoom in on your cards and follow you throughout the building to ascertain that you’re not cheating.
The ‘Big Brother’ of casinos is always watching you, especially if you win big, or you’re on a major hot streak. According to casino experts, when someone is winning a lot of money, they’re always going to get checked by security, and the customer won’t know that he’s under scrutiny. Their intention is not to harass the winner but to make sure that he legally won, and that he didn’t cheat. Once security realizes that the win is legitimate, they move on to the next big winner.
Plus, most gambling establishments are now equipped with some form of facial recognition software to help these casinos identify flagged individuals with shady records, customers with gambling addictions, and even underage guests.
CASINOS CHIPS MAKE YOU BET MORE
Casinos require the use of colorful little round chips while playing at the tables for simple yet excellent reasons. First, they make the whole gambling process more efficient. Using casino chips keeps the games moving more swiftly than if dealers had to wait for players to pull out their wallets and count their money before placing their bets.
Second, casino chips are an added security measure to protect the establishment’s money. Stealing these chips have become much harder to accomplish since many casinos have started embedding radio frequency tags or RFID tags into these colorful chips. In fact, several years ago, the Bellagio used these RFID tags to catch the armed bandit who stole at least $1.5 million in casino chips from a craps table.
Third and perhaps the most deceitful reason of them all: Casino chips reduce the feelings of guilt when you spend your money away. Similar to tokens, e-cash or smart cards, these casino chips disguise the true value of your money, and psychological evidence suggests that people tend to gamble more when using virtual forms of money compared to when they handle real cash.
The negative aspects of gambling are not exactly a recent, mind-blowing revelation to those who engage in this risk-taking activity. Some people know better than to risk the little money they have, and to gamble them all away on an uncertain game that they may never win. But for people who love and enjoy gambling, it’s all about living by the idea of “going big or going home.” Perhaps that is why gambling, from ancient to modern times, has continued to be one of the most successful and enduring industries ever to have been established by human civilization.