Casinos are a fun and exciting way to make some money, and there are some surprising health benefits of gambling, too. Studies have shown that it can reduce stress, increase social networking, and even sharpen the brain. But it’s important to know the risks before you play. So here are some things you should keep in mind before you step inside the casino door.

The odds for every game in a casino are stacked against you. In fact, it’s in your financial interest to walk away with less cash in your wallet than you entered with. But what makes otherwise rational people — those who work hard for their money and make reasoned financial decisions on a day-to-day basis — throw hundreds or even thousands of dollars away based on the literal roll of a dice or spin of a wheel?

It’s all part of the psychological manipulation casinos employ. They use sounds, lights, and physical design to lead you into spending more money than you’d planned on. And they’re very good at it.

For instance, if you’re at the blackjack table, you won’t find any clocks, because they don’t want you to know what time it is. And the floor is covered in really garish carpeting, because it helps keep you alert and playing. The use of chips instead of cash is also by design. It’s easier to track losses with chips and it makes you feel like you’re not losing real money.

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