When you double down on a blackjack table or go all in during a game of Texas hold ’em, you are gambling with real money. But it doesn’t feel that way because you’ve changed your cash into colorful little discs that represent actual currency—chips. This helps dissociate the pleasure of gambling from spending actual money, and allows players to make bigger bets. Casinos also allow patrons to load money onto cards that can be used in digital games, further separating the thrill of playing with real money from the sting of losing it.
The goal of casinos is to keep people glued to their tables, slots, and horses, and the only way to do that is by creating a euphoric atmosphere. This is why casinos waft scented oils in their ventilation systems and feature bright, sometimes gaudy decor. The euphoria is reinforced by the constant sound of ringing and cheering. You’ll also find no clocks on the walls because casino management wants you to lose track of time and stay in the games.
While casinos may boost local tourism, their impact on the economy is mixed. Statistically speaking, communities within 10 miles of a casino suffer higher rates of problem gambling, domestic violence, and economic distress than those farther away. However, comparing local changes in unemployment before and after a casino opens can be misleading because population dynamics and statewide business cycles should be taken into account. And while casinos do generate jobs, they often act as parasites on the local economies that rely on them for new customers.