In the battle between casino and gambler, the house has a way of getting the most out of everyone who walks through the door. Throughout history, one of the many things casinos have learned is that the more people bet, the more they’re going to lose.
With that in mind, a number of tactics have been put in place to “encourage” patrons to keep gambling, regardless of what his or her bankroll looks like.
In this article, I’ll lay out the top seven ways that casinos try to get more betting money out of you.
1 – Making You Use Chips
Before I get into this one, I want to make it clear that there are several reasons to use chips other than the fact that it will get you to spend more. Transferring cash into chips simply makes the gambling process much easier for everyone.
However, the concept of casinos using something else besides real money to gamble has always been a focus. For example, many casinos today offer “gaming cards” that allow players to load money before they start playing. This puts yet another degree of separation between gamblers and their actual cash, and makes the games feel like they don’t have actual financial consequences.
You might be a bit more hesitant to double down on your semi-decent blackjack hand if you were putting actual $50 bills on the table and not just a small stack of chips.
Because of the obvious reasons that chips (instead of real money) make the entire operation run smoother, I can’t criticize the casino for doing it. The real message is to just be aware that those little pieces of clay have actual value and need to be treated as such, which often is not the case.
2 – This One’s on the House
You know that person who seems to make more rational decisions when they’re under the influence of alcohol? I didn’t think so.
Casinos know that players who have a “cautious” approach to gambling can be loosened up with a little bit of liquid courage. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that players are usually more than willing to be loosened up. The casino is a place where good times should be had, after all.
Now, I don’t want to make it sound like casinos are pouring drinks down gamblers’ throats (although they probably would if they could), but there is an undeniable push toward having a few drinks while playing.
The easiest way I’ve fought the urge to take up the casino on their offer for free drinks is to keep a drink in my hand at all times, but not drink it. Chances are, if you have a full cup, waitstaff will leave you alone for the most part.
3 – A Lack of Clocks
Nothing brings you back to reality like checking the time and noticing you’ve been at the same blackjack table for two and half hours. Because of this, casinos make you do all the work when it comes to checking the time.
Perhaps this one predates modern society as nearly everyone has a phone and access to watch, something that wasn’t always the case a hundred or more years ago. With that being said, the noticeable lack of clocks on the casino floor can make it easy to forget how much time you’ve spent gambling.
When you enter a casino, always take note of what time you start playing. It’s critical to take breaks on a regular basis. A break every half-hour is best, but every hour is okay, too. Remember to step away from the table, slot machine, roulette wheel, etc.
Most people are aware of the clock-less nature of casinos, so wear a watch or set a timer on your phone to remind you that breaks are necessary. Just be sure that you put the alarm on vibrate as you don’t want to disturb others who might be playing around you.
4 – Game Location
You may have heard that grocery stores place products in a thoughtful way so that you have to pass aisles and aisles of product before reaching the essentials you came for. Casinos share this same philosophy when laying out the floor.
If you’re walking to the bathroom, looking to get food, or even just to play another game, the house wants you to be exposed to more potential playing options. As you walk by, you might even think you hear that slot machine saying, “Come on, just put in a couple bucks and see what happens.”
5 – Celebration!
If you’ve ever been in a casino when someone hits a big win playing real money slots, you’ll likely recall the raucous celebration that takes place in the moments shortly thereafter.
These celebrations are not just for fun, in fact, there is something else at play when it comes to the lights and sounds that accompany hitting the jackpot.
The fanfare that happens following a slot machine win acts as an advertisement to everyone on the floor. It’s a subtle, or not-so-subtle, reminder that the machines do occasionally help some players hit it big. This can give people who were on the fence a nudge in the direction of throwing a few coins into the machine.
Don’t get me wrong, people do win jackpots regularly at casinos, but rarely do you hear anything about the 95% of people who walk away without any winnings.
Other celebrations, such as at table games with higher stakes, serve the same purpose. Sometimes, all it takes to get people to gamble more is seeing that it is indeed possible to walk away with a huge win.
6 – Loyalty Programs
Nearly every casino out there has some type of rewards program that gives players kickbacks for their frequent patronage. Many of these casinos actually require that you sign up in order to play.
It could probably go without saying, but there’s a reason casinos have implemented these programs, and it’s not out of the kindness of their heart. Gaming establishments know that if you earn points for playing, it’s only going to encourage you to play more.
Despite the fact that the loyalty cards are ultimately self-serving to the house, I would still recommend taking advantage of casino comps. Just do it with the knowledge that if you lose $500 and are rewarded with a free dinner, you’re still paying for that dinner one way or another.
Always make sure you read over the specifics of any loyalty program before signing up. Not that they’re necessarily deceiving, but you should know what you’re getting when you join.
7 – High ATM Fees
Anyone who has used an ATM at a casino knows that there are often higher withdrawal fees than just about anywhere else. Are they really that desperate that they need your extra $5?
The answer to why fees are so high is actually something a little more psychological. The reasoning behind it is that if you’re going to pay a higher fee, you might as well withdraw more money at one time.
For example, if you originally wanted to withdraw $50 but have a $5 fee attached, you might recognize that you’re paying an extra 10%. If you instead withdrawal $100, now you’re only paying 5%, and so on.
The bottom line is that you want to avoid ATM fees, so be extra sure to withdraw all the money you’ll need for your gambling bankroll that day so you don’t have to go back and pay the fee again. This can lead to players taking out slightly more than they had originally anticipated in order to avoid repeating the process.
If you’re one of those players who is planning on betting all the cash that you have, recognize that paying $10 for two ATM trips isn’t the end of the world if it saves you from withdrawing a huge amount.
Despite the fact that it might seem like casinos are using sneaky tactics to get every last dollar out of you, I choose to look at it as all part of the game.
As long as you’re aware of what’s going on, you can make the best decision for your individual situation. Just like you, casinos are there to make money and will do whatever they can to maximize profits.