How Casinos Get You to Gamble

We’ve all been there: You stride into a twinkly casino, wallet filled with cash and the promise of some enjoyable, sensible gaming and two rounds of cocktails. Hours later, you have no idea what time it is, how many drinks you’ve had, or how much your money has disappeared. Then you remember, as if it were yesterday, that it’s the house that always wins.

How is it possible that otherwise rational people — people who work hard for their incomes and make reasoned financial decisions on a daily basis — can be so easily persuaded to throw hundreds, even thousands, of dollars away based on the roll of a dice or spin of a wheel? The answer is that casinos are expertly designed to lead you astray. From the dazzling lights to the soothing smell of scented oils, everything in a casino is engineered to keep you gambling and spending your money.

During the 1990s, casinos greatly increased the use of technology to help monitor and manipulate games. For example, betting chips with built-in microcircuitry connect to electronic systems on the table and are tracked minute-by-minute; roulette wheels are rigged to detect deviations from statistical expectations; and cards are routinely examined for signs of manipulation. Casinos also employ mathematicians who specialize in game theory to develop optimal strategies for table games, such as blackjack and Spanish 21. These are known as “house edges,” and they are designed to ensure that the house always makes a profit.

Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone, is an epic history lesson on how Vegas changed from a seedy desert town run by mobster bosses to the megacasinos of today. The movie is riveting throughout its three hours, thanks to its tight editing and taut narration. But it’s the performances that really stand out. De Niro is perfect as the ruthless gangster Santoro, and Stone’s blonde hustler Ginger McKenna is a force to be reckoned with.

Another way that casinos get you to spend your money is by dissociating your real money from the gambling. Instead of using paper bills or coins, you are given colored discs that represent actual money. This helps people feel more comfortable placing larger bets. It also prevents them from seeing their losses as a big deal. Many casinos also offer prepaid cards to let customers dissociate their gambling from actual spending.

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from losing your money in a casino is to set limits before you go in. Decide how much you’re willing to lose, then stick to it. You can also download a payment app such as PayPal to separate your spending from your real money, which will also help you avoid gambling too much. The best online casinos will offer a range of digital payment methods, so you can find the option that works for you. Also, look for a casino that offers mobile compatibility for a seamless gaming experience.

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