They make you play with chips instead of real money
When you double down on the blackjack table or go all in during a game of Texas hold 'em, you're playing with real money. Only it doesn't feel that way, because you changed your cash into colorful little discs representing actual currency.
It's much easier to bet big with chips than actual money, and the losses don't sting as much, either. Many casinos also let you load money onto a card that can be used in digital games, providing yet another way to dissociate your gambling from spending real money.
There isn't a clock in sight
You will never see a clock in a casino. The people managing the establishment want you to lose track of time, paying no attention to the hours you've spent or the time of day or night, so you will just keep trying your luck. If you want to know the time, trust your own watch or phone.
They give you round after round of free alcohol
Heavy drinking is the best thing that can happen as far as a casino is concerned. Booze lowers inhibitions and clouds judgment, so alcohol is served nonstop, delivered right to the gamers sitting at the card tables, the slot machines, or in front of the horse-racing screens. And aside from the small tips any decent patron provides to the waiter or waitress, the booze is often free.
The floor is designed in a maze-like layout
Casinos are intentionally designed to be labyrinthine. There are no straight aisles leading to exits or clear pathways from one section of the playing floor to the next.
Instead, curving paths and strategically placed gaming sections are intended to catch your attention as you wander through, convincing you to stop and try a round of roulette or throw a few dollars into a poker machine when you were originally on your way to the restroom or even out the exit.
If you spend enough cash at a given casino, they will often offer complimentary meals and even a free stay at the adjoining hotel. This creates a situation where you don't have to leave the casino even to meet those basic human needs of sleep and sustenance. And when you wake up the next day, chances are good you'll gamble more.
They restrict your views of the outside world
Once you pass through the doors of a casino — doors that are usually coated with window tint to dampen the sunshine outside — you can't tell what hour of the day it is without consulting a watch or phone.
Casinos keep their interiors lit just the same both day and night, and often feature décor that tricks you into feeling like it's an appropriate hour to be awake, such as brightly colored carpets and even ceilings painted to look like the daytime sky.
They put on big celebrations for the rare wins
Your chances of hitting the jackpot on a slot machine or going on a hot streak at the craps table aren't good at all.
But whenever someone does hit that rare big win on a machine, bright lights flash and sounds blare, and when someone rakes in the cash on the tables, cheers arise. These celebrations create a false sense of possibility that keep other players bleeding chips, even though someone else's win does nothing to increase the chances you'll do the same.
They place their bathrooms strategically
Walk into a casino and the first things you will see are gaming tables or machines. Contrary to the approach taken by most establishments, bathrooms in casinos are located deep within the building, not conveniently near the doors. If you want to relieve yourself, you must head deeper into the casino and past many more opportunities to press your luck.
They offer loyalty programs
The sunk cost fallacy is on full display every time someone follows a losing bet with an even bigger bet.
But casinos take the sting out of losses by offering reward programs that see you earn points with every dollar played, even if you lose it. Rack up enough points, and you might get a free meal. But keep in mind you might have lost $700 earning the points that cover that $28 entree.