When most people think of casinos, they picture glitzy halls and endless rows of slot machines. What they don’t see is the psychological tricks these establishments use to get people spending money and craving more, even when they’re losing. From the moment guests walk through a casino’s doors (usually coated with window tint to dim the sun) they’re engulfed in a fantasy world.
Curving paths and strategically placed gaming tables are meant to catch the eye of players as they wander past. This is a deliberate distraction that can keep them from heading to the restroom or out of the building. Casinos also play to the sunk cost fallacy by offering rewards programs that encourage patrons to continue gambling, despite their losses. For example, if you lose $700 playing video poker and rack up enough loyalty points to get a free meal, you’ll probably be tempted to make another wager to recoup your losses.
Lastly, casinos create the illusion of wealth by changing cash into colorful little discs that don’t feel like real money. This makes it easier for players to double down on blackjack or go all in during Texas Hold’em. Many casinos even let players load money onto cards that can be used in digital games, further dissociating their gambles from actual dollars.
While Casino is far from a happy movie, Scorsese conveys a sense of nostalgia for a time when the mafia ran Vegas. His depiction of violence, treachery and avarice is uncompromising, but the film also offers some redemption when it comes to Ginger, the unlikeable hustler played by Sharon Stone.