Casinos Know You Do It, But They Can’t Stop You


This Game Is A Huge Ripoff

Casino games are known to give an advantage to the house; some games are more skewed than others. “Carnival games,” such as let it ride, Caribbean stud, and 3-card poker, advertise big money but lower odds. If you are looking for high risk, high reward experiences, these games will certainly provide with 8 to 1, 9 to 1, and 250 to 1 payouts.


Penny Slots Are The Moneymaker

Casinos easily rake in six figures a day. In response to the early 2000’s, many gamblers became more thrifty when playing the slots. Penny slots allow gamblers to play only a penny if they would like. Of course, most people play for more than just a copper Abe Lincoln coin. It is common for casinos to have more penny slots than more expensive machines. For example, The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel’s slots are 70% penny slots.

Card Counting

There is one way to get an advantage in casinos legally, but it comes with significant risks. Card counting, made famous by films such 21 and Rain Man, is the act of tracking which cards have been thrown to capitalize on what is left in the deck. Although legal, casinos do not like being taken advantage of and can kick you out if caught. Casinos try to combat this trickery by shuffling the deck frequently or by slightly changing the rules.


Numbers On Roulette Wheel Add Up To 666

Gamblers are known to be superstitious beings. One casino game, in particular, seems to hint at a mythical connection. The numbers on the roulette wheel add up to 666, also known as the “number of the beast.” Legend has it that Francois Blanc, the operator and “Magician of Monte Carlo,” made a deal with the devil to receive the secrets of roulette. Roulette’s nickname, the devil’s wheel, probably comes from a combination of gambling’s destructive capacity and its connection to the biblical beast.


Casino Floor Maze

Have you ever gotten lost in a casino? This is an intentional trick by the casino to disorient their visitors. They want you to be distracted by a bay of slots, or a perfectly placed bar. Modern casinos even have lower ceilings.

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No Clocks

They say time flies when you are having fun. Casinos could amend this statement to “time flies when you don’t know what time it is.” To keep you in your seat, casinos purposefully do not have any clocks. Why should they help you with punctuality while you play hours of craps? Casinos bank on visitors without watches that will easily lose track of time. Hoping the dealer will help you with the time? Sadly, they are instructed not to wear watches.

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First Slot Machines Not In Casino

If you thought these fluorescent money boxes were invented for casinos, guess again. Charles Fey, a mechanic, invented the first slot machine to entertain customers at his auto shop while they waited. Casinos started purchasing and operating them to give gamblers something to do while they waited for open tables. Now it is pretty unlikely that you will ever set foot in any casino without these fluorescent money boxes present, beckoning you with their alluring bright lights.


Nevada Lottery Squashed By Casinos

Nevada, the gambling capital of America, is flooded with casinos, card rooms, and slot machines (even in the airport). The one place it puts its foot down? The lottery. The gaming industry has no interest in allowing another gambling opportunity for its customers. About 30 attempts to pass lottery legislation have all failed. The lottery prohibition was written into Nevada’s constitution in 1864. It is not the only state without a lottery – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Utah also have outlawed them.


Games With Better Chances To Win

Where 3-card poker and let it ride will keep you on the losing end, some games will give you a better chance to win. Blackjack players can help themselves with a little knowledge of the game. Players can help reduce the house advantage by studying the game and understanding when to hit and when to stay. It won’t guarantee major winnings, but it will vastly improve your chances. Just stay away from double exposure blackjack. Its stricter rules give dealers additional advantages.


Table-side Bathroom Emergencies

Gamblers take their seats at a table very seriously. Some refuse to leave for hours, seemingly passing the time without a single bathroom break. Gambling addicts will commit so deeply to playing that they will urinate on themselves or wear adult diapers. A gambler in Indiana filed a complaint with Indiana’s gaming commission after he sat in someone else’s pee at a slot machine. One man in New Jersey once relieved himself into a slot machine instead of walking over to the bathroom.

Not So Free Drinks

One highlight for many gamblers is the expectation of free drinks while they play. While not all casinos serve free alcohol, larger ones keep the liquor flowing because they expect you to lose. With the odds against the player, gamblers’ losses more than cover the cost of “free” drinks. Plus, alcohol impairs decision making as you continue to throw chips onto the table. What started as a minimal loss could easily get out of hand with too much to drink.


The Illusion Of Winning

The adrenaline rush of winning drives a gambler’s insatiable appetite and makes all of the near-victories palatable. Each game is designed to give the illusion of hope, so players will continue to spend. Every slot machine spin seems to be one fruit away from the jackpot, even if you are rewarded with a small payout. In craps, you feel as if you are in command with the dice in your hand. In blackjack, those early wins feel like a pattern.


American Roulette Vs. European Roulette

Global roulette plays may find more success in Europe than America. The American roulette table is slightly different from its counterpart in Europe. Originating in France, Americans roulette has added an extra place for the ball to land. With 38 spaces, not 37, the player’s odds are lowered. American tables will include a “00” space as an additional house pocket. A 19th-century version of the game also featured an American eagle symbol giving the house another opportunity to win.


Magic Carpets

If you’ve been in a casino, one of the first thing that pops out is the carpet. With bright colors and swirling designs, it is impossible to ignore – that’s the point. The carpet design is another psychology trick played on unsuspecting customers. Its boldness is used to keep players alert and encouraging them to play more. Bright colors are linked with happiness, which the casino hopes will lead to happier players. After hours of losing, however, the carpet pattern is the last thing on your mind.

A Lucky WWII Vet

Table games are notorious for their massive rewards to lucky players. In rare instances, slot machines can make you rich as well. One World War II veteran dreamed he would see they day he won big – not once, but twice. Elmer Sherwin caught his first big fish in 1989, taking home $4.6 million from a machine at the Mirage. 16 years later his dream came true. Sherman made an outrageous $21.1 million at the Cannery. It’s the first time someone won the Megabucks jackpot more than once.


Eye In The Sky

It’s safe to assume that you are being watched while at a casino. Surveillance cameras cover the ceilings watching everything below. Security personnel could go back and track every person’s movement throughout the casino. This does not include two private locations – the bathroom and hotel rooms. The cameras are used to scope out illegal activity such as pickpockets. They can also sniff out potential card counters. If necessary, the cameras are so strong that security staff could zoom in on your hand.

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Law Enforcement Everywhere

Security cameras are not the only things watching your every move. The casino floor is not just filled with floor managers and pit bosses, but also a staff of undercover police. Generally posing as guests, you could never tell that the man waiting for your table is actually just watching you. Casinos don’t want their guests to feel uneasy, so police try to be stealth. They are easier to spot than you think. Just look for the people moving around, placing only small bets.


Self-Imposed Bans

Some states have passed laws to help gambling addicts with their illness. You can ban yourself from casinos, making it a crime to walk onto the gaming floor. Ohio’s voluntary exclusion program allows exactly that. You can choose to ban yourself for a year, for five years, or for life. Be careful with your self-imposed penalty: if you choose a lifetime ban, there is no way to remove your name from the list. You will be truly banned for life.

No Windows

Although brightly shining with artificial light, casinos rarely have windows. You may see a few near the entrance, but once you enter the gaming floor, prepare not to see the sun for a while. Similar to their tactic with clocks, a windowless room disorients players into not knowing the time. At no point will you stop playing because “it’s getting dark.” In Vegas, they are especially keen on keeping you indoors. The strip has enough stimulation that it may draw you away from your seat.


FedEx’s Big Break

International shipping service FedEx almost flamed out before it began. Thanks to a lucky weekend playing blackjack, Frederick Smith saved his company. Due to the high cost of fuel, FedEx was millions of dollars in debt. With only $5,000 in the bank, Smith risked it all in a 1973 trip to Las Vegas. Luckily he came home with $27,000. His risky maneuver allowed the company to stay afloat long enough to raise $11 million. FedEx would eventually turn its first profits in 1976.

Smoking and Casinos

America has become a difficult place to be a smoker publicly. Most states have banned smoking in restaurants, bars, and even parks. Casinos are one of the few places it is still allowed to smoke indoors. This has allowed them to become case studies for the effects of smoking, both first and secondhand. The University of California San Francisco jumped at the chance to study smoking bans in casinos. After a 2008 ban on smoking in casinos, Colorado saw a 20% decrease in ambulance calls from gambling establishments.


Cheaters Never Win

Security has a great eye for cheaters and is trained to spot them. Cheaters have tells similar to the way poker players do. Rubber-necking is a common tactic of slot machine cheaters. They will sit at a machine and look around from side to side, generally looking for security. Most slot players look straight ahead not wanting to be bothered. Extreme money management is another tell. It looks quite suspicious to bet a few $100 hands in a row and follow it up with a $50,000 bet.


Looser Security

One location with a smaller security presence is the poker room. The other games have so many moving pieces and high-risk possibilities for both the house and players that poker is relatively left alone. Since poker players go against each other and not the house, the casino has less at stake. The risk is solely on the players, so they take care of themselves first. If someone is goofing or taking advantage of something, a regular player will say something to maintain the game’s integrity.

Big Winners Get The Most Attention

Casinos pull out all the stops to protect their business. This includes an impromptu investigation into big winners. If you go on a big streak or hit the jackpot, security will do everything they can to ensure they were not duped. To counter card counting, security will review the player’s entire play for signs of cheating. Slot winners receive the same inspection. Casino staff will review video to be sure the player did not tamper with the machine. They don’t want to harass winners, just catch the scammers.


Gambling Capital Of The World

The gambling capital of the world is surprisingly not Las Vegas. It sits in a country in which casino gambling is mostly illegal. Macau is a major attraction due to its family friend vibes in addition to its notorious VIPs. Unlike Vegas where penny slots bring in bank, Macau’s VIPs generate most of the industry’s income. High rollers in Macau lose an average of $1 to $5 million per trip – a decrease from the $5 to $10 million they used to spend.


Oxygen Myth Busted

While casinos do many things to trick their guests into spending more and staying longer, one common story is no more than a myth. It is rumored that casinos pump oxygen into the gaming areas. In theory, this would help keep gamblers alert and gambling. In reality, it is an avoidable felony and a fire hazard. From where did this fallacy come? In Fools Die by Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, the fictional Xanadu casino adds oxygen to the air which may have jumpstarted this rumor.


Indian Reservation Casino Beginnings

Indian casinos were not always the establishments that we know today. The first Indian casino had no card games or slot machines. In 1979, the Seminole tribe in Florida opened a bingo hall in Hollywood, FL. Big winners could take home up to $2,000. The state disapproved as this exceeded the legal limit for gambling winnings. The Seminoles fought the state and won. The case set a precedent allowing high stakes gambling on reservation land, which is sovereignly ruled by its tribe.


Digital Credits

Another way casinos dupe you into staying longer is through digital play cards. Although you may begin with cash, slot machines and video poker machines exchange your money for digital credits. The amount of money is the same, but you no longer hold the physical bills. Without inserting bills into the machine, it is easier to forget your balance or continue to play. The only way to receive your winnings or remainder is to visit the cashier. It’s a classic trick making it hard to walk away.


Casino Behind Bars

Nevada is so serious about gambling that they used to allow inmates to gamble. From 1932 to 1967, the Nevada State Prison inmates could test their luck in blackjack, craps, poker, and even bet on sports inside the “bullpen,” a stone building within the Carson City grounds. Initially, administrators thought the casino would help keep the inmates out of trouble. After a riot in early 1967, the prison hired Carl Hocker as warden to regain order. He bulldozed the bullpen before the casino could be officially outlawed.


The First Sandwich

Legend has it that the sandwich was created at a casino by a multitasking gambler. In 1765, John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, ordered his servants to bring him a meal he could eat while he stayed at the tables. He told them just to put some meat between sliced bread so he could eat and play concurrently. In reality, the Earl was not such a big gambler but did enjoy a good sandwich. The story most likely came from a French travel guide to London.

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Larger Chips Benefit The Casino, Not You

Many casinos encourage their visitors to take and use larger valued chips rather than ones with a smaller value. This is simply due to convenience for dealers. You are not obligated to take large chips, but merely by suggesting it, casinos are positioning themselves to take more of your money. It is easier to throw a single $25 chip on the table than it is to count out $25 worth of smaller chips. As you build a habit of throwing large chips, you will begin to throw more large chips together.


A-Bomb Entertainment

In the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Energy began testing and detonating nuclear bombs in the desert just 65 miles from Las Vegas. They dropped over 1,000 bombs which could be seen from miles away. The enormous mushroom clouds became a tourism hit. Vegas businesses took note of the public interest. The Chamber of Commerce listed detonation times on its calendars as “atomic bomb parties.” Casino bars began offering “atomic cocktails” alongside mixology classics. One casino held a “Miss Atomic Energy” pageant with mushroom cloud outfits.

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The Monaco Rule

Monaco is famous for its beautiful beaches and the Monte Carlo Casino. While tourists lineup to play at Monte Carlo, the law forbids Monaco’s citizens from gambling. When Princess Caroline developed the casino in the mid-1800s, she was adamant that citizens not be allowed inside. She wanted gambling revenue to only come from foreigners. In exchange, citizens of Monaco do not pay income taxes. Monegasques are doing fine without gambling. They enjoy a high standard of living and rely on strong banking and finance industries.

Clearing Your Hand

Players are not the only ones under surveillance scrutiny. Dealers must show security they are not stealing before leaving a table. “Clearing your hand,” as it is called, involves clapping your hands together and turning them palm up and palm down to show they are clean. It’s not uncommon for dealers to try to slip a chip into their pocket. If caught, some casinos will arrest the dealer on the spot and proceed with a perp walk through the casino.


Racial Breakthrough

Las Vegas in the 1950’s had a racist reputation similar to southern states. One hotel manager drained the hotel pool after renowned singer Sammy Davis Jr. broke the rules and swam in the pool. The opening of the Moulin Rouge casino and hotel was the first big win for civil rights. Built in a predominantly black part of town, the Moulin Rouge was the first interracial casino. Although it mysteriously closed down after four months, it was surprisingly successful landing on the cover of Life magazine.


Tip Your Dealer

Tipping your dealer is standard casino etiquette. What many players do not know is that dealers would rather you bet your tips for them. Dealers are paid minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage. They appreciate all the tips they receive because they live off them. Instead of handing them a chip or two, many dealers would prefer that chip be played. They cannot ask for it be played, but if asked, they are free to respond for a chance to double their money.


Origin Of Craps

Do you know why the casino dice game craps is called craps? Similar to many names and words, it is a product of language over time. Historians believe the name comes from an old British dice game called ‘hazard.’ In hazard, crabs is the act of rolling “snake eyes.” The French in New Orleans continued to play hazard into the 1700s. At some point, the combination of French and English players changed the game’s terminology and rules. Crabs became craps, and the beloved game was born.

Chewy Prizes

Slot machines are a perfect embodiment of a casino. They are loud, flashy, provide hope, and present the occasional jackpot. Did you ever wonder why the wheels have pictures of fruit? In the early 1880s, slot machines would not dispense monetary winnings. As a way to circumvent legal restrictions on slot machines, winners would receive fruit flavored gum as a prize. They did dispense tokens too, but the tokens were meant to exchange for drinks and cigars. The first coin payoff machines began popping up in 1888.


First Casino License

Among the infamous gangsters from which Las Vegas gained its notorious beginnings is its founding mother. Mayme Stocker was issued the first legal casino license in Las Vegas. She was considered so respectable that her birthday parties were covered in the Las Vegas newspapers. She opened the Northern Club in 1920 under her own name because her husband Harold did not want to be associated with the establishment. At the time, they offered only the five legal Vegas casino games: stud poker, draw poker, lowball poker, 500, and bridge.



Unlike your neighborhood bar, it is quite difficult to manipulate casino employees into giving you free stuff. Casino staff has specific guidelines for handing out comped accommodations. Even if you feel that you have lost enough to be comped, trust that casino staff will reach out when it’s appropriate. Casino employees can even be fired for giving out comps to guests who have not spent enough. Still, comps are important to casinos because they help breed loyalty from gamblers, even the small spenders.


Losing Money Before Losing Money

Casinos are ready to take your money even before you place your first bet. ATMs within the casino notoriously charge high withdrawal fees. While many places charge between $2.00 and $4.00, do not be surprised to see charges up to $10 for withdrawals under $500. Some places will go as far as charging near $30 for specific withdrawal amounts. Casinos charge lower fees for large amounts knowing that it encourages you to spend more when you have the cash in hand.

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Scented Paradise

Have you ever noticed a sweet aroma in the air while you shoot craps? Casinos occasionally take a page from a spa’s book and use subtle scents to relax its visitors. If you are relaxed while playing, you will feel less of an urge to get up and leave. The Mirage in Las Vegas pumped coconut butter scents onto its floor to match its tropically themed resort. The Mohegan Sun worked herbal scents into its air circulation for a time too.


95% Payback is Misleading

Slots and video games will frequently boast of a 95% payback, but that does not mean you will get 95% of your money back necessarily. Most machines give between 83-99% payback, but that total is calculated over time, not per player. Casinos frequently will mislead its guests into thinking they have better odds at succeeding when in fact they are working them to spend more money. Looking for a leg up in video poker? Play five coins per hand to receive a bigger bonus.

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They Make You Think People Are Winning

Those flashing neon lights and loud ringing bells are all a part of the casino’s ruse. They want you to believe that winning is possible and that the people around you are luckier than you are. The same bells go off for a $1 win and $2,500 victory. Also, the sounds of losing are overpowered by celebratory music and flashing lights, so you are less aware of the losing around you.


Mob Connection

Martin Scorcese’s 1995 crime epic Casino was not far removed from the truth about casino management. It should be no surprise that organized crime still plays a part in the casino industry due to the enormous amount of capital that flows through them. Las Vegas blossomed out of hitman Bugsy Siegel’s financing of the Flamingo Hotel. Large casinos today are managed by corporations, but small local casinos still have ties to the underworld which helped grow the industry.


Keno Is Your Worst Bet

Keno is the worst game to play based on odds. The house maintains a 35% advantage over players. It is a great game to play if you are interested in losing all of your money. To win, you must match all 20 numbers on a 20-spot ticket. The odd of that happening are 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,336. In comparison, most casino games give the house no more than a 5% edge. Keno players, you have been warned.


Casinos On The Strip Have Worse Odds

A trip to Las Vegas generally includes an extensive time gambling and wandering around the famed Las Vegas Strip. The bright lights and flashy buildings and fountains might be part of the show, but they are not the best for smart gambling. Locals will frequent the casinos in less touristy areas for less commotion but also better odds. With less traffic, they need to entice visitors to stay with something the Strip cannot offer.

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The World’s Smallest Casino

Not impressed by the lavishly large casinos in Las Vegas or Macau? Head to London and take a ride in the world’s smallest casino. The Grosvenor Casino in London has its own mobile casino in the back of one of the famed London cabs. It has a gaming table, dealer, bar, and tv for sports. As long as they make a charitable donation, riders can go anywhere in the city. Rides to the casino are free of charge.

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The First Casino

While gambling has existed for as long as people have tested their luck, casinos themselves date bak to 1638. The Ridotto opened in Venice as the first casino. The Great Council of Venice wanted to give Venetians a place to gamble in a controlled setting. Before this establishment, illegal clubs ran gambling operations throughout the city. When authorities attempted to ban games of chance, the clubs became more popular. They decided not to fight it and helped run the first casino.


No Dice

The phrase “no dice” is used to indicate something will not happen. Did you know the expression comes from gamblers who would swallow dice? In the early 20th century, many states banned dice games. To avoid arrest, many gamblers would swallow the dice to destroy the evidence. Many courts would dismiss cases without physical dice as proof. Court records indicate several cases alleged gamblers ingested dice to avoid arrest. A pretty clever trick with a (likely) uncomfortable ending.