- Every aspect of a casino is designed to lead people into spending more money.
- Casinos use sounds, lights, and physical design to create an environment that is at once welcoming yet hard to step away from.
- Here are nine tricks casinos use to keep you spending your money.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
It's happened to all of us.
You stride into the casino brimming with confidence, wallet filled with cash, and plans for a bit of enjoyable, sensible gaming and maybe two rounds of cocktails.
Hours later, you have no idea what time it is, how many drinks you've had, or what happened to your money.
But there you are at the ATM yet again, with no plans to leave the bright, temperate casino where everything seems OK - despite the fact that you're losing money hand over fist.
In the end, the house always wins.
But how do casinos trick us into losing so much money? How do they make otherwise rational people - people who work hard for their income and make reasoned financial decisions on a day-to-day basis - throw hundreds or even thousands of rands away based on the literal roll of the dice, the spin of the wheel, or the draw of the cards?
The short answer is that every aspect of a casino, from the carpets to the ceilings and everything in between, is designed to thwart common sense and lead people into making decisions that are against their own interest.
Casinos use sounds, lights, and physical design to create an environment that is at once welcoming yet hard to navigate. They use enticements like the illusion of frequent big wins to convince us we may well strike it rich if we just keep playing. And they ply us with food and drinks to keep us content and without need beyond diversion.
Read on to see nine ways casinos trick you into spending more money.
They make you play with chips instead of real money
When you double down on the blackjack table or go all in during a game of Texas hold 'em, you're playing with real money. Only it doesn't feel that way, because you changed your cash into colourful little discs representing actual currency.
It's much easier to bet big with chips than actual money, and the losses don't sting as much, either. Many casinos also let you load money onto a card that can be used in digital games, providing yet another way to dissociate your gambling from spending real money.
There isn't a clock in sight
You will never see a clock in a casino. The people managing the establishment want you to lose track of time, paying no attention to the hours you've spent or the time of day or night, so you will just keep trying your luck. If you want to know the time, trust your own watch or phone.
They give you round after round of free alcohol
Heavy drinking is the best thing that can happen as far as a casino is concerned. Booze lowers inhibitions and clouds judgment, so alcohol is served nonstop, delivered right to the gamers sitting at the card tables, the slot machines, or in front of the horse-racing screens. And aside from the small tips any decent patron provides to the waiter or waitress, the booze is often free.
The floor is designed in a maze-like layout
Casinos are intentionally designed to be labyrinthine. There are no straight aisles leading to exits or clear pathways from one section of the playing floor to the next.
Instead, curving paths and strategically placed gaming sections are intended to catch your attention as you wander through, convincing you to stop and try a round of roulette or throw a few dollars into a poker machine when you were originally on your way to the restroom or even out the exit.
They offer free room and board
If you spend enough cash at a given casino, they will often offer complimentary meals and even a free stay at the adjoining hotel. This creates a situation where you don't have to leave the casino even to meet those basic human needs of sleep and sustenance. And when you wake up the next day, chances are good you'll gamble more.
They restrict your views of the outside world
Once you pass through the doors of a casino - doors that are usually coated with window tint to dampen the sunshine outside - you can't tell what hour of the day it is without consulting a watch or phone.
Casinos keep their interiors lit just the same both day and night, and often feature décor that tricks you into feeling like it's an appropriate hour to be awake, such as brightly coloured carpets and even ceilings painted to look like the daytime sky.
They put on big celebrations for the rare wins
Your chances of hitting the jackpot on a slot machine or going on a hot streak at the craps table aren't good at all.
But whenever someone does hit that rare big win on a machine, bright lights flash and sounds blare, and when someone rakes in the cash on the tables, cheers arise. These celebrations create a false sense of possibility that keep other players bleeding chips, even though someone else's win does nothing to increase the chances you'll do the same.
They place their bathrooms strategically
Walk into a casino and the first things you will see are gaming tables or machines. Contrary to the approach taken by most establishments, bathrooms in casinos are located deep within the building, not conveniently near the doors. If you want to relieve yourself, you must head deeper into the casino and past many more opportunities to press your luck.
Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- Facebook just banned Huawei, but you’ll still be able to use WhatsApp and Instagram on Huawei phones in South Africa – for now
- The spectacular house once owned by African Bank's ex-CEO is back on the market - for R135 million
- No more credit cards or free lunches: new rules for municipalities limit cars, consultants, and fancy chairs
- The most expensive streets in KZN, where average house prices are more than R10 million
- Take a look: South Africa's new R2 and R5 coins
- A 31-year-old South African innovator’s medicine-dispensing Pelebox just won another R470,000 international prize