If you’ve ever been to a casino, you know just how surreal the experience can be. With bright multi-colored lights bursting from every corner and the cacophony of the machines assaulting your ears with a wide array of joyous discord, it’s almost as though the room was designed to not just assault your senses, but rather to beat them into submission. Many legends have grown out of these carnivals of joy and misery. Some are true, some are false, and some are unbelievable yet entirely true. Here are five of some of the most outrageous myths, truths, and urban legends about casinos.
The Extra Oxygen
Is more oxygen too much of a good thing? You may think pumping more of the life giving compound into a room would be a good thing, but it actually does have a few adverse side effects which aren’t so bad if you’re a casino owner. The theory is that if you add extra oxygen to an enclosed room, patrons will be more energized and alert. This fools the body into thinking that it is wide awake, thereby keeping gamblers at the table longer and ignoring pesky little things like exhaustion. However, this urban legend is false. It is illegal to “drug” your costumers, even with oxygen. This is essentially what pumping any substance, including O2, into the air would be considered. However, the fact that this rumor exists leads one to believe, that someone in the casino industry probably thought about doing it.
Casino owners are probably the most considerate people of all time. They always make sure that their customers are continually refreshed by offering them free drinks at a moment’s notice. Some even go so far as to make sure their most loyal customers are properly nourished with a free trip through the buffet. There are several reasons why they do this. First of all, if you’re drinking alcohol, your inhabitations are lowered. Secondly, if the casino feeds you, that means you’re not leaving to go out and look for food elsewhere. The whole idea is to keep you under their roof, so once you’re done eating you can go right back to gambling at one of their machines or tables. And finally, those freebies aren’t all that free. In fact they’re paid for by all the money you, and everyone else, is losing playing their games. So this one is entirely true.
The Urine in the Carpets and Lost Chips
You’ll find no refuge from the visual assault of flashing lights if you decide to look down at the carpet. At first glance, casino carpets look like they were designed by a madman obsessed with fractals, nonlinear shapes, and black light posters. These brutal displays of abstract expressionism that would make Jackson Pollock say, “It’s a bit much” have been the subject of quite a few urban legends. During my few trips to the casino floor, I’ve noticed that the flooring does take on a good deal of abuse. From spilt drinks to snuffed out cigarettes, its no wonder why you wouldn’t opt for a plush beige. There are also those who believe the pattern hides bodily fluids deposited there by incontinent gamblers who are too busy gambling to worry about something as silly as finding a bathroom. Another theory is that the confusing colorful patterns camouflage chips dropped by gamblers. These chips are then swept up by the custodial staff and added to the casino’s profits. Although I doubt a gambler would give up their search for a dropped chip all that easily.
No Way Out and Time is an Abstract
It feels like the second you walk through a casino’s front door, the exit disappears behind you. This is done by design, or the seeming lack thereof. The whole idea is to keep you in and gambling, of course. Some casinos even go so far as to design the room so that it isn’t a traditional square, rectangle, or circle, but rather some kind of undefined geometric shape that defies all mathematical laws. The tables and machines are also arranged in a deliberate haphazard fashion, making it possible to walk past the same machine so many times that you finally get fed up, forget about going home, and just start gambling until a rescue party can reach you.
You’ll also notice that most of the machines are so high that they obscure the fire department mandated exit signs. And these machines are positioned to obscure the heavily tinted glass doors leading into the casino. This action eliminates outside light thus eliminating the customer’s concept of time. Casinos have also made sure to not hang any clocks. A cashed-out and time conscious customer is no longer a gambling customer, therefore they make it difficult to leave by making sure the cashier desk isn’t all that easy to find.
Hidden Messages in the Machines
This story originates from Canada where the gambling commission forced some casinos to pull their slot machines after it was discovered that they were projecting subliminal messages. On February 22, 2007, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had 87 machines pulled when they found that they were signaling “jackpot” for a fraction of second. It was believed that these flashes convinced gamblers that a jackpot was imminent and kept them at the machines longer.
And for more weird tales and urban legends about gambling, check out the recent episode of Our Strange World podcast here.