How Casinos Keep You in the Game


We’ve all been there: you stride into the Luxor, or the Mohegan Sun, with your wallet stuffed full of cash and a plan for an enjoyable night of gambling and maybe two rounds of cocktails. But somehow, hours later, you’re left with no idea what time it is, how many drinks you’ve had, or what happened to your money.

Casinos are designed to lure you in and make it difficult for you to step away. From dazzling lights to the smell of scented oils, casinos use a variety of tricks to keep you in the game, and spending your money.

The first thing you notice when entering a casino is the overwhelming abundance of gaming tables and machines. The sunk cost fallacy is at play, with players convinced that just one more bet will turn the corner and break even. In truth, it’s more likely to leave them further in the hole.

When a player hits that rare big win, the lights flash, the sounds blare, and cheers rise. These celebratory events create a sense of possibility that leads other players to spend more and more. All slot games, except video poker (which has a small element of skill), are pure chance.

A great casino also takes the sting out of losses with loyalty programs that reward you for every dollar you spend, regardless of whether you win or lose. The top casinos also make it easy to withdraw winnings, with no delays or requests for additional documents.