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6 Secret Ways Casinos Take Your Money

There are more ways to run out of cash than being dealt a few bad hands.

Ideally, no one walks into a casino expecting to lose money. And with plenty of practice and a touch of luck, you can sometimes increase your chances of cashing out a bigger stack of chips than you brought to the table. But if you look past all the action of the gaming floor and the thrill of seeing your number hit, you might be setting yourself up to empty your wallet in ways you didn't even realize. Read on to see some of the secret ways casinos take your money, according to experts.

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Covering your hotel

A person entering a hotel room

It's nothing new for hotels and casinos to come in pairs. But while a lobby that bleeds onto a gaming floor might seem like it's only helpful for turning a property into an attraction for out-of-town visitors, ownership can also use the offer of comped accommodations to keep you nearby after a hot streak.

"If you keep spending enough money at a particular casino, you will most likely be offered a complimentary free room at the adjoining hotel," explains Harrison Newton, a casino expert with "This creates a situation where you don't have to leave the hotel to meet basic human needs. And when you wake up the next day, chances are good you'll gamble more."

Hidden hotel fees

Guest makes card payment at check-in desk of hotel, detail

For some travelers, booking a fancy hotel can be the primary reason they choose to visit a casino in the first place. However, experts caution that you might want to look deeper into the great rate you think you've booked to avoid a surprise when you go to head home.

"'Resort fees' are charges tacked onto your hotel bill to cover 'resort amenities,'" says Larry M. Grant, a casino expert with gambling information website Scams.Info. "Keeping them off the hotel bill until you check out is just another way to push up what you thought was a reasonable price. Just imagine you've been beating the tables for a few days and then the casino charges you $50 more upon departure, and you'll understand why most people leave the city in a worse mood than when they arrived."

READ THIS NEXT: The 10 Best Casinos in the U.S. If You Love to Gamble.

Endless free drinks

A group of people drinking at a cards table in a casino
iStock / DarrenMower

Most casino visitors work the floor to have a little fun and unwind. Of course, it only helps that most establishments keep the alcoholic beverages flowing with cocktail servers making regular rounds. But, unfortunately, there's a good reason the house wants to keep your cup full.

"You don't really need an explanation on how alcohol affects your decision-making," Newton says. "Drinking loosens your inhibitions, which makes you more likely to take risks—and is why free booze is served non-stop."

Dining on-site

Food At a Restaurant

Even the best poker players and blackjack pros have to make moves from the gaming table to the dining table a few times a day. But if you're going for the most convenient option, it could end up costing you in the end.

"While there are many great restaurants in Vegas and plenty of places to eat for under $10, one of the most irritating practices for some restaurants—especially on the Strip—is the Concession and Franchise Fee (CNF), which charges diners an additional 4.7 percent," Grant tells Best Life. "What's it for? The restaurant charges an additional charge for 'prime real estate locations' when you get your bill."

If you're looking to avoid paying extra for the privilege of dining near the casino, Grant says to consider doing a little research ahead of time for other nearby options that may not be attached to your hotel.

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Psychological tricks

A card dealer at a crowded blackjack or poker table
iStock / Lacheev

With flashing lights, a wave of sounds, and an overall exciting ambiance, casinos are meant to pique the senses and draw in any potential players. However, they're also designed to keep you at the table as long as possible to increase the house's chances of taking more of your money. And according to experts, some of this even dictates some modern casino fundamentals.

"An old casino trick is removing all the things that could remind you of how long you have been playing at the table, like clocks or windows," says Newton. "The idea behind this is you'll much easier lose track of time, paying no attention to if it's day or a night—you'll just keep trying your luck. Dealers don't even wear watches to prevent people from asking them about the time."

There's also a reason behind using chips instead of large bills to place your bet on the table. "The psychology behind this lies in the fact that you don't have the same perception when you're losing plastic chips as you do when losing actual cash," Newton explains. "You probably wouldn't risk that much if you can actually see your own dollar bills being taken away from you, right?"

Design and layout tricks


Part of the subliminal tactics used to keep you at a specific table can be built right into the design of the space, too.

"Bathrooms in casinos are located deep within the building, not conveniently near the doors. If you want to relieve yourself, you must head deeper into the playing area and past many more opportunities," Grant explains. He adds that some casinos even "gradually soften the floor finish the closer you get to the machines" so that "as you move away from the machine to leave, you begin to feel discomfort as the surface underfoot gets harder."

And what better time to convince someone to make a massive purchase than off of a hot streak at the table? "It's shop 'til you drop! Some of the fanciest casinos are like mega-malls for haute couture for this reason," says Grant.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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