Casinos in Las Vegas can seem like another world- and this is intentional. The music, constant supply of alcohol and food, and even scented air can encourage gamblers to play for longer, which will usually turn a profit for the casino. However, there is a rumor that casinos pump oxygen into the air to increase alertness for gamblers, so they stay awake longer and spend more money.
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Casinos in Las Vegas do not pump oxygen. This is a myth. While casinos use several tricks in order to keep players alert and at the tables for longer, pumping oxygen into the casino is not one of them. Higher levels of oxygen would increase the risk of fire and is against the law.
Read on to learn what methods casinos do use to encourage gamblers to stay longer, where the myth started, the effects of oxygen on the body, risks of pumping oxygen, and a little bit about the most popular casinos in Vegas.
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Where the Myth Started
The myth that casinos pump extra oxygen into the air comes from Mario Puzo’s novel Fools Die, where a casino owner, who owns the fake Hotel Xanadu in Las Vegas, pumps oxygen into the casino in order to keep gamblers awake and spending for longer.
Since then, cynics have circulated the rumor, sure that casinos are playing dirty tricks, even while owners assure patrons that no such activity is happening.
Since Las Vegas casinos are typically very well air-conditioned, gamblers may be more alert and feel like they’re breathing more pure air. However, the air is not infused with extra oxygen- it’s just cold, and sometimes scented for freshness.
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The Risks and Benefits of High Oxygen Levels
Even though increased levels of oxygen have been shown to improve cognitive thinking (at least in the elderly), and even boost energy, oxygen can also raise the risk of severe fire.
The benefits of oxygen are widely believed by those who frequent oxygen bars, claiming the treatment increases alertness, helps you recover from workouts and hangovers alike, and provides a release from stress.
You’ll find oxygen bars in various Las Vegas casinos. Basically, you sit at the bar with beakers of colored water bubbling in front of you while wearing tubing that you place in your nose. The system filters out nitrogen thus increasing the oxygen level.
While low oxygen levels can certainly cause a host of problems, including chest pain, confusion, headaches, and dizziness, it has not been proven that oxygen bars will do much for the average person. After the blood has been saturated with oxygen, there’s a limit to how much the body can use.
A healthy person, with a saturation of 98-99% of oxygen in their blood probably won’t notice any real effect from increased O2, besides maybe feeling a little more alert.
If oxygen is pumped directly into a room, and a fire starts, no matter how small, the oxygen will increase the energy and heat of the fire. If levels of oxygen are high enough, even substances with low flammable properties can ignite with little prompting. Since Las Vegas casinos allow smoking, a lit cigarette and high concentrations of oxygen would be a hazardous combination.
Since oxygen will increase fire risk, casinos in Las Vegas cannot legally pump oxygen. A fire in a crowded room would be disastrous, and adding oxygen could make any fire even more devastating.
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How Casinos Make Gamblers Stay Longer
Just because casinos don’t pump oxygen doesn’t mean they don’t have other tricks up their sleeves in order to make gamblers stay longer and spend more money. Since all the games’ probabilities are skewed towards profiting the casino (also known as the “house”), the longer someone stays, the better chance they spend and thus lose, more money.
So, how does a casino encourage people to stay?
- No clocks. Most casinos hide or simply do not display the time of day inside the casino. Without the physical representation of time, gamblers can play for hours.
- No windows. Just like a clock, windows can show the passing of day or night to people inside a casino – which is why casinos avoid them.
- Near misses. With electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines, casinos can “rig” the machines to give results that are just off a big jackpot, to encourage the gambler to try again. This effect can be especially stimulating to a gambling addict.
- Flashy wins. When a patron wins any amount of money on a machine, lights flash, music blares, and coins clink. Not only does this encourage the winner, but it notifies other patrons that money is being made and makes them feel more hopeful about their own chances. The “winner effect” can occur even if a gambler bets $10 and wins back $5, making them feel like they’re earning money even while they’re really losing it.
- Chips instead of cash. Ever wondered why gamblers bet plastic chips instead of real money? This is to reduce the value of money in the mind of the gambler. If they have a piece of plastic that represents $100, they’re more likely to bet a couple of chips rather than sliding real hundred dollar bills across the table.
- Free stuff. When a gambler is on a losing streak, a high-spender, or seems to be slowing down, casinos will offer free drinks, food, or concert tickets. This encourages gamblers to come back, or keep trying, as they feel like they’re still earning and getting a deal while being at the casino.
- Swapping out lower-valued chips. Casinos want you to bet high sums of money, and playing table games encouraging you to “color up” meaning, for example, exchanging ten $5 chips for a $50 dollar chip. Casinos figure that with only expensive chips in hand, you’ll bet more.
- Resort Playground. By having a casino operate in a resort setting, guests find themselves more relaxed and thus tend to play longer on average. Big Las Vegas casinos excel in creating this kind of luxurious adult playground!
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Most Highly-Rated Casinos in Las Vegas
The Palazzo and Venetian
This golden, palace-like complex contains two separate but connected hotels and casinos, both bursting with grandeur and class. The resort also boasts an indoor “Little Italy” (with a painted-sky ceiling), a 40-foot rock wall, and multiple art installations. The Palazzo and Venetian are two of the most highly-reviewed casinos and hotels in Vegas.
The Golden Nugget
Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Golden Nugget has a huge range of table games and often tries out new “pilot” games on the floor. With all the variety and excitement, it’s impossible to be bored.
In addition to games, the hotel boasts a 30 million dollar pool and a sprawling outside patio, crowded with, you guessed it, more table games.
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Circus Circus – This gleaming, massive casino is hard to miss, and shouldn’t be missed out on. With an arcade, carousel, roller coaster, and a bounty of fair food, this casino is the most family-friendly. Parents can gamble while the kids play, or join in on the all-ages circus fun.
Mandalay Bay’s claim to fame is their enormous pool, dubbed by the casino as a “beach.” Continuing on the water theme, the hotel also has a shark aquarium that boasts over 2,000 aquatic animals. With real sand, a lazy river, hot tubs, and even live concerts in the summer, this casino proves you don’t have to be on the coast to have a beach vacation.
For top-class entertainment, while you gamble, Planet Hollywood has got you covered. This casino features performances ranging from pop stars to world-class magicians, and almost everything else in between. Be prepared to be dazzled, and on your feet cheering!
In Las Vegas, the city known for its casinos, owners do have methods to get gamblers to spend more and play for longer. It’s why casinos exist in the first place!
However, Las Vegas casinos do not pump oxygen as part of a ploy to keep patrons awake and alert. It’s a myth that most likely started from a popular novel, Fools Die, which is completely fictional.
If you are heading to Las Vegas, there are plenty of well-known casinos to choose from, boasting pools, entertainment, and great food alongside endless casino games.
If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas be sure to check out our Las Vegas Visitor Guide to help you find the best deals on hotels, attractions, and shows.