The Casino: An Experiment in Social Engineering?

Casino dealers, the boys behind the security cameras, the undercover guards, and the environmental services team (yes, that one exists) fill the ranks of the industry’s veterans. The status brings them knowledge, an insider’s keen eye and vital experience on the underbelly of land-based gambling.

Heavy slot machine-users devolve to catatonic button-slappers that are not even potty-trained. Gamblers may turn into unhindered exhibitionists whose game arousal spills over into public indecency. And the house edge is unbeatable.

The stories come straight from the source and read like a Las Vegas Confidential testimony from the underdogs and the unsung heroes of the gambling industry.

What Happens in Vegas Is Messy

“Ah those knock-out body fluids: blood, sperm, tears!” Add soiled casino chairs and uncontrollable, over-excited bowel movements. Gamblers seem to have a hard time adhering to the most elementary manners.

Never mind the black tie and the dignified self-composure as the roulette wheel spins and spills your last earnings into the casino’s green felt pockets. The gambling scene has room for only one or two cool players who bask in the glimmering light of fortune, and those seats are taken. Think George Clooney in Ocean 11 and James Bond in Casino Royale.

We see them locking eyes with their rivals like gunslingers gambling their dusty lives in a fast draw. In reality, most casino-goers will simply forget basic hygiene and, matter-of-factly, just p*ss in their pants.

Special Environmental Services or Babysitting of Gamblers?

That’s why there’s a thesis among social anthropologists that makes the gambling trance responsible for obliviousness, wrong decision-making, impaired logical reasoning, and foul etiquette.

The behavior is similar to drunkness or emotional paralysis when inhibitions can’t keep up with the urge to play. While in the slot machine zone, the button-slappers will be too immersed in the fast and furious game to mind the most basic of their physiological needs. For example, going to the bathroom.

Casino insiders will tell you that one of the main purposes of their environmental services team is to clean or throw away chairs that have been the target of the desperate gamblers’ urinary incontinence.

One piece of advice would be to keep away from players wearing dark clothing. Casinos are places of purpose and intent, so long black trousers could be designed to hide any revealing stains or smears.

What would be No dice in the world outside the casino becomes a messy All-in under the rooftops of gambling halls. Sex included.

“Nothing risqué, nothing gained”

An occasional casino visitor will probably convince himself that all those twisted stories he’s heard over the years are nothing but fabulations of the mind- drunk on the free cocktails and the rush of the games.

But casino dealers and security guards have come forward with their decade-long immersion into the world of the casino. These on-site veterans have seen all kinds of public debauchery, from elevator intercourse to fondling under the roulette tables to prostitutes supplying the market for game-induced sexual arousal.

Usually, the reprehensible behavior is laid on the excitability of the games and no one pleads guilty to the ethics police. But this kind of events leave a bad taste for those behind the surveillance cameras.

It seems it can’t be helped. In the casino, everyone from dealers to passers-by to security guards takes risks, willingly or not.

Being Reeled In the Slot Machine Zone

Anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll has turned problem gambling into her lifetime research topic. In her book, she writes that “Until the mid-Eighties, green-felt table games such as blackjack and craps dominated casino floors while slot machines huddled on the sidelines… along hallways or near elevators.”

The slot machine zone has become the pride and glory of a casino nowadays. Entire businesses are vying for the record of highest number of pokies in the country or latest reel games to reel you in.

And when a patron has a heart attack or the fire alarm sounds off or a river floods the scene? Many players won’t move a muscle, not alone budge from their “lucky” seats, even if the dealer is already out the door.

Despite the deafening blares of the alarm or the cries of the paramedics who need space to save a life, heavy users remain locked in position, trapped inside their catatonic state, ignoring the chaos around.

Like fish reeled in on tenterhooks.

The House Edge Keeps Casinos in the Game

Casinos have been called money pits that capitalize on human weakness. And, probably, worse things.

But everything from establishment design (no windows, no clocks, no easy exists, no change of tunes but an interminable background yoga music to keep the patron off his toes) to game architecture (if odds could kill) is meant to secure the house edge in spite of the cheaters’ cartels, the genius Maverick in the corner or a guy with a bad fit of good luck.

The best odds, a casino will put on the blackjack table. A little lower than a coin toss, the deal with get you as near as a 48% chance of winning.

Don’t try to cheat, though. Casino cameras don’t allow for any dead angles. Handling the chips under the table will get you surrounded by an escorting force of black-suited security guards sooner than you could say “jackpot”.

Make Your Own Gambler Edge

If you do want to get something out of the unquestionably unbalanced relationship you have with the casino, employ at least one of the following gamblosophies (just made that one out, we’re running with it for an Oxford Dictionary entry this year):

  • Be a giver more than a taker. As soon as you make amends to donating your retirement funds to the house, you can be one of the benign Gandhi bums of the casino scene who have relinquished all financial pursuits.
  • Conversely, rub the casino industry blind (well, more like to the point of short-sightedness) by eating their Swedish buffets and drinking their on-the-house liquor as much as you can. Be that guest that never brings a home gift and ends up digging its way through the desert to the leftovers in the fridge. It’s the closest you can get to be the winner! Unless you have magic poker hands?

Insider stories have painted casinos into a horror Disneyland of both contemporary noir mythology and social experimenting on the trainability of the human mind. Do gamblers really serve as Pavlovian monkey-subjects to the designers of future marketing? Can an in-depth analysis on the slot machine zone unveil troubling conspiracies?

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