Baiting the Hook
Darwin Ortiz on Casino Gambling

Casinos use a variety of ingenious techniques to encourage people to gamble longer, more frequently and for higher stakes. You will never see a clock on the wall in any gambling casino. Management doesn't want you leaving the table to run off to some appointment, or worrying that you have squandered too much of the day gambling, or feeling that you should pack it in because it's getting near bedtime. Coupled with the lack of windows in the casinos, the absence of clocks helps create an unreal, timeless atmosphere removed from everyday reality, one in which it is only too easy to follow the path of least resistance and keep gambling until your money runs out. This atmosphere is strengthened by the ever-present cocktail waitresses serving free drinks. Alcohol has never been noted for promoting a responsible attitude toward either time or money.

It has been said that the most brilliant invention in the history of casino gambling is the use of chips instead of money for betting. When betting those clay and plastic chips it is easy to forget they represent real money. If betting currency, it is likely that a player would consider more carefully before risking a week's wages on one roll of the dice. The use of chips is one more element contributing to the unreal feeling that so much of the Las Vegas experience has - the atmosphere that prompts one to act without weighing the real life consequences.

Chips are also used to encourage players to increase their bets. When a player is winning substantially, the dealer will start paying him off in higher denomination chips. For example, if the player bets two five-dollar chips on a Blackjack hand and gets a natural, the dealer may collect the bet and give him a twenty-five dollar chip in return. This practice is known as colouring up. The dealer follows this practice partially to keep his stock of chips from getting too depleted in any one denomination. However, the procedure serves a more subtle purpose. Before long, the winning player who had been betting five-dollar chips may find that all his money has been converted to twenty-five dollar chips. As we have seen, it is generally a good strategy to increase one's bets when winning. However, make sure you are doing it because you want to and not because you have been subtly pressured into it by the house. Remember, you can always ask the dealer to change your chips back to a lower denomination.

No detail is too small for the casinos to consider in their endless quest to win your money. Even the placement of slot machines is carefully thought out. There are always rows of slots within easy reach of the long lines that form as people wait to enter the showroom. If the waiting gets boring, the machines are there to provide a little diversion. Similarly, in many casino coffee shops, if one wants to go to the rest room, he must leave the restaurant and wander through a long maze of slot machines to get there. If the last time you were having a snack in a casino coffee shop, your girlfriend excused herself to go to the ladies room and took forty-five minutes to get back, now you know why.

Of the many strategies both blatant and subtle that casinos use to encourage you to gamble, none is more complex than the granting of complimentary items to players. To get your business, a casino may be willing to give you not only free drinks, but free food, free lodging, free transportation, free shows, free gifts, and even free money in the sense that casino credit to players is interest free.
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