If you’ve ever been to a casino, you know there’s a lot going on.
Between the sounds, the lights, and the drinks, it’s practically an after-hours theme park.
An expensive after-hours theme park.
The University of Las Vegas found that the 23 Vegas casinos bringing in over $US72 million each in the 2013 fiscal year ended up with over $US5 billion of their visitors’ money, altogether. That’s an average of over $US630,000 a day, per casino.
No one who has ever held a checking account considers gambling a wise and prudent financial choice, so what’s the deal? How come we’re spending so much money in casinos?
A recent Quora thread asked a similar question. Here are some of the users’ thoughts on how casinos get gamblers to spend more money:
1. They hide the progression of time
“Making gamblers lose track of time, such as by not having clocks on the walls, or windows to the outside world of sunsets and sunrises.” As another user points out, shopping malls use this same tactic. — Ann Litz
2. They make sure everyone sees a win
“If someone wins big, everyone on the floor will know it, because there will be flashing lights, and noises. Casinos will leave these flashing lights and noises running until their staff turn up and administer the win … anyone coming onto the floor sees and hears evidence that ‘other people are winning.'” If they can win, why can’t you? — Mark Harrison
3. They put opportunities in your path
Everywhere you go in Vegas, there’s an opportunity to gamble — especially in hotels. “As [guests] walk back and forth past all the bells and lights and flashy accoutrements,” explains a Quora user, “they’re tempted to throw a coin in here and there, and many times stay and play for a while.” — Richard Litz
Flickr / Moyan Brenn
Guess what time it is.
4. They provide ‘free’ perks
“I have a couple of friends who boast about the ‘free’ rooms, food and other stuff they get from the big Vegas casinos … it is their losses that pay for the complimentary stuff.” — Steve Black
5. They use chips rather than cash
“Chips are innovative form of money that hold good only for the casinos. Once the players change their money into chips, most of them tend to spend completely rather than going back and getting the remaining cashed.” — Akhilesh Saklecha
6. They know you won’t do the maths
One Quora user who used to live in Reno, Nevada, explains that casinos love to advertise their payback rate, or how much money people aren’t losing in their casinos. While billboards reading “97.8% payback rate, highest in Reno!” must be technically accurate by law, she mentions that people forget something important: “That average payback rate includes when someone wins Megabucks in their casino. It includes when there are slot tournaments and someone wins a car. If someone hits a million dollar jackpot, how many dollars did they have to take 2.2 cents from to make that happen? (The answer is just short of $US45.5 million) But no one does that maths.” — Erin Painter Baker
Flickr / Prayitno
Which of these machines will you choose?
7. They regulate camera use
“Never allowing a camera in a casino, unless it is to show someone winning. This means that every movie, every TV show, if it wants to include footage of the casino, shows happy young people winning.” While it’s hard to stay on top of smartphone cameras, photographers with more obvious equipment might run into snags with security. — Fred Landis
8. They give you the illusion of control
Gamblers get to choose what casino they visit, which games they play, and which moves they make, which can make them overly confident. “Gamblers do not think that [they] are average,” explains one user. “They are under the illusion that they are going to be different; they are going to win … The more choices that they are given, the more that these choices appear to be complex and involve skill, the more that gamblers, especially pathological ones, will believe that their bets will win, even though bets on average clearly will not.” — Timothy Takemoto
9. They offer free drinks
“Drunk people take more risks than sober people, and there’s nothing like a paid up bar tab to make you feel like you have extra cash to burn.” — Christian Cipriani