It’s an experience you have probably had at least once: You stride into the Luxor, Mohegan Sun or Tropicana brimming with confidence and a wallet filled with cash. Then, a few hours later, you don’t know what time it is, how many rounds of drinks you’ve had or what happened to your money. That’s because casinos are expert at making it hard to walk away. They use sights, sounds and even smells to create a manufactured blissful setting that’s hard to escape from.

The slick decor, cheerful music and hypnotic lights make it easy to fall into the trap of gambling, which is often a form of escape from everyday stress and worries. Hobbies, like playing games and sports, are another form of escapism that can help people deal with daily stresses by triggering the release of feel-good hormones.

Casinos are also adept at changing the way that customers think about their money. Instead of using actual dollars, they often use chips, which are colorful discs that represent real cash but are easier to carry around and harder to lose. In addition, many casinos let gamblers load up their chips with free items or credits (comps) that they can spend at the tables and slots. This further dissociates the gambling from spending real money, easing the pain of losses and encouraging more betting.

Finally, casino owners realize that it’s important to keep locals hooked by creating jobs close to home. That’s why many casinos employ a large number of service and hospitality workers from the local area. But it’s important to understand that the local unemployment rate may not necessarily improve after a casino opens. It’s crucial to consider other factors, such as changes in population dynamics and the statewide business cycle.

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