How Casinos Make Money From Unwary Gamblers

Confused Woman in a Casino

Casinos are a business, but not everyone knows that. Casinos regularly make money from unwary gamblers. If you’re walking into a casino to just have a bit of fun on the slots and tables, or if you don’t expect to win anything back, great—casinos are more than happy to oblige you.

However, many serious players look at casinos differently. Yes, they still want to have fun, but just like someone who likes to go hunting on the weekends is going to learn the best places to hunt or the most cost-effective ammunition, someone who has a passion for gambling is going to do everything they can to get the most out of the experience.

That being said, gaming is far different from most hobbies. The owners and managers of casinos understand the methods of encouraging people to take risks they might otherwise avoid. They know how to win.

But if you know the rules they’re playing by, you can learn to level the odds and walk away with a small bit of profit, all while having a good time. Learn how casinos make money and why cautious gamblers still lose money below.

1 – Casinos Are Another World

One of the main ways that land based casinos keep the money rolling in (and you on the floor) is by bringing you into their world. When you walk into a casino, they want you to stay as long as possible, and they have the advantage of controlling the building.

What does that mean? It means no windows to the outer world. It means no clocks on the wall. You might as well have walked into Narnia, because you’ll have no idea what time it is or how long you’ve been playing.

And if you’re having fun? Well, time flies, doesn’t it? You’ll spend hours more in the casino if you don’t notice the sun setting, if you forget to check your watch, and an easily accessible clock isn’t on the wall.

But it’s a lot more than that.

The floorplans of a casino are often deliberately confusing. It’s like walking into a maze—you’ll have no clue how to get out without asking someone. Add to that fact that the maze is filled with opportunities to continue gaming, slots and tables everywhere, and many people end up sitting back down to spend just a little more money.

Finally, all casinos are filled with light and sound and distractions. They want you paying attention to anything but what you have to do tonight or what you’re doing right now at the table. The lights and sounds and people are all meant to keep your eyes off the game, to keep you from playing your best. If you’re distracted by the cocktail waitress and the trapeze artists jumping through the air above your head, you’re not going to be playing your cards right.

What this means is that you need to be rigorous about paying attention to the time and learning the layouts. Always wear a watch, and set limits on how long you’ll play.

2 – Chips Aren’t Really Money, Right?

Another simple, yet extremely effective, trick is the use of chips. Think about this, if you had a pile of cash in front of you, thousands of dollars all in hundreds, and the next bet is a grand, how easy would it be to count out 10 Benjamins?

Stack of Poker Chips

But if all you have are a handful of colorful chips that are the exact same size and shape that only really differ in color, then your mind struggles to make the conversion. You have to think for a second and do the math. But if you’re caught up in the fun of playing, or if you don’t even know what time it is, you’ll probably throw that thousand-dollar chip in like it’s nothing.

Always remember to keep a running tab of how much those chips are worth, and count each time you make a bet.

3 – Free Booze for All

Alcohol affects your judgment, and where do you need proper judgment more than at the tables? Most casinos give away at least a few drinks, which means you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed with booze into just about any casino you walk into.

While you might wonder how the casino can afford this, you just have to remember their incredible purchasing power. Casinos are gold mines. They‘re purchasing alcohol in astounding quantities. Believe me when I say that they’re coming out on top on this one. They can afford to give you free booze.

If you want to avoid this, it’s pretty simple—either stay sober or cut yourself off early. A little alcohol goes a long way toward reducing your mental focus and increasing your chances of making a bad play.

4 – Slots for the Win

Slots are big money makers for a number of reasons. First, they’re independent of other patrons. You don’t have a dealer there watching you to see if you actually know what you’re doing. You don’t have a group of other players judging you. Anyone can walk up and throw money in. These are especially enticing to new players who feel nervous about the tables.

Slots have preset payouts. The casinos can do everything in their legal power to ensure payouts are as low as possible. They’re also everywhere. Most casinos stick slots in every available corner.

The place is lousy with slot machines! How easy it is to toss in a couple bucks while you’re waiting to meet someone or taking a break from the tables? Too easy.

The advice for this one is simple. Be careful about slots just like you would any other table. Don’t treat them like a video game on your phone. Carefully track how much you’re putting in, and set a limit.

5 – Complimentary Everything

People love to brag about getting a complimentary room at a casino (or anything else, you name it), but the reality is that the casino is only comping something because they expect to make their money back.

Not to mention the fact that they own the hotel rooms. The cost for you to purchase a room compared to the cost for them to have a room empty for a night are much different.

Generally, comps are not given in advance. They’re given for a return trip as an incentive to get you to come back. High rollers are a different story, but the majority of players can still get a lot of freebies here and there, depending on what they’re playing.

The main reason this works so well is that, in the majority of cases, the comps are meant to get you to come back. In the long run, the house always wins. If you won big today, the casinos are going to do anything in their power to get you back again and again until lady luck evens the score.

The moral of this story is simple. Don’t let comps get to your head and make you think you’re unique. The casino is betting on you coming back with a bigger ego, less attention to detail, and prepared to make the mistakes you didn’t make this time.

6 – Eat and Drink All Night Long

It seems so simple, but it’s so true. People stop gaming when they’re hungry and thirsty. Good food all night long is hard to find in most cities, but casinos understand that players craving hamburgers are players who leave… unless there happens to be a great burger joint right there in the casino.

Burger Fries and Beer

If you find yourself at a casino long enough that you’re getting hungry or thirsty, go outside and take a break. Navigate the maze, get some fresh air, get a bite to eat, then decide if you should go back.

Nobody makes good decisions on an empty stomach.

7 – Everyone Sees a Win

This last one is inevitable. When someone wins big, they like to make a big deal out of it. Lights go off, people cheer, employees come out of the woodworks to celebrate. In short, everyone stops what they’re doing to see the big win.

You don’t quite have the same experience when you have a big loss. The casinos don’t want you looking around and seeing sad faces. They want you to see the absurdly lucky folks who just hit the big one.

Once you see it, you’ll get it in your head that you might be next. It’s the same reason you see news stories about lottery winners—the lotto loves these pieces. Everyone sees the big money and imagines what they’d do with it. So, they buy a ticket.

See this for the psychological trick that it is. Someone else winning has zero effect on your odds of winning. The numbers don’t change just because someone finally hit the jackpot.


The savvy player walks into the casino with an understanding of the game. This is a place where statistics and math rule, and everything else is suspect. Enjoy the scenery for what it is, but understand that the odds are stacked against you. See their tricks for what they are, just tricks that have no bearing on the actual odds of your game of choice.