Casinos are a weird place. They make billions of dollars by convincing you to bet your life savings on a roll of a 1,000-side dice where only one space doesn’t have a picture of you bent over the table, having horrible things done to your lower half. And yet, people keep doing it and coming back for more, and, bizarrely, things get even bleaker when you look behind the scenes of a casino, which is what I did. I spoke to Laurie, Chris, and Sean, three ex-casino employees who told me that…
5. Employee Theft Is Rampant At Casinos
There are basically two surefire ways to get money from a casino: Learn to count cards and treat the blackjack table like a shitty, smoke-filled office where you have to pay for your own coffee, or get hired by the casino and just start robbing the place as if your name was Stealy McPilferton. Seeing as the second option is less likely to give you lung cancer, most people tend to go with that. Sean, who used to do surveillance for a Nevada casino, explains:
“Employees steal from the casino all the time. Desk agents stole from their tills, bussers stole tips, bartenders stole drinks and bottles etc.”
“Casinos thrive on cheap labor and when you recruit with the attitude of ‘we just need a body’ they will even overlook the fact they’re hiring a convicted thief.”
Not that casinos mind having people with a criminal mind on the payroll. They’d just prefer it if they helped them stop theft.
“Some years back, the casino started offering free play for guests,” Sean explains. “We started to notice that more and more of our high rollers were saying that their player cards [that you put into the slot] had no free games on them. For some reason, I said in front of my manager ‘if someone is stealing this, they are doing it right.’ 30 minutes later I was in the boss’ office, expecting to get fired and/or arrested for the theft.” Ah yes, the common criminal mistake of just confessing to the crime for no good reason.
Instead, the casino asked Sean how he would have gone about stealing free games off players’ cards. After thinking about it, he told them that “you would need full access to the high rollers’ Players Club to get the cards and change a guest’s PIN number. Then you need a second person to use the card. Whoever was behind this couldn’t gamble for even a second because of the surveillance. They thanked me and sent me on my lunch break.”
“Next thing I know one of my co-workers is escorted off the property along with his partner.”
As for Sean, I can only assume that his bosses started keeping a really close eye on him. Just in case.
4. If You’re An Asshole, You’ll Love Casino Cruise Ships
The sea is a terrifying thing. It’s huge and mysterious and full of krakens. And then we try to sail over it in ships made out of metal that floats as if that made any goddamn sense? It’s no wonder people get a little crazy during cruises. Laurie, who worked as a dealer on a casino cruise ship, unfortunately knows all about that.
“I had a guy cuff me upside the head ‘accidentally’ while I was dealing craps and wasn’t doing what he wanted. Another guy threw a plastic chip tray at me because he was asked to leave due to excessive alcohol … I’ve seen a 20-ish dude piss himself, and my friend had a guy throw up on his table.” In the last guy’s defense, though, it’s possible he just had severe food poisoning.
See, in a regular casino, you can easily throw a rowdy guest out the door (and into oncoming traffic, if nobody’s looking.) But on a cruise ship with a limited number of passengers, banning people would severely affect a casino’s revenue stream, and you know what they say: Dealers’ teeth are replaceable, the time you waste NOT owning a solid-gold toilet due to lost profits is not.
“People also never get banned from the casino because at the end of the cruise folks fill in a comment card and the manager’s bonus is reliant on how good the rating is.”
The other problem with casino cruise ships is the “lack of security personnel. Most casinos can’t even open without a certain amount of security while on a cruise ship there are only a handful of guards, and they are in charge of the whole ship. In fact they never come into the casino at all without a special invitation from us.” So if a dealer ever gets attacked, all they need to do is send out a homing pigeon with the message: “You’re cordially invited to get this violent, 300lbs drunkard off of me before he fucking murders me.”
In fact, Laurie and her coworkers were encouraged to deal with violent guests themselves by asking them to leave… or buying them drinks on the house. You know, fight fire with fire(water). This, sadly, is part of a much larger problem in casinos:
3. Casino Employees Take A LOT Of Abuse
“When I worked as a desk agent, people would blow smoke in my face, spill or pour their drink onto my desk, and throw credit cards at me. Daily,” Sean told me. “I would come home every night stinking of whatever alcohol someone spilled or poured on you,” after having to deal with “angry guests yelling at you that ‘ITS ALL RIGGED! HOW COME I DON’T WIN?’” Sadly, management never let Sean come back with “because it’s called ‘gambling’ and not ‘free money,’ you swine-faced evolutionary dead-end.”
“Christ, I once got yelled at by a high roller for asking him for a credit card because ‘I get comped everything! Why do I have to give you a fucking card?!’”
But asshole guests weren’t really as bad as asshole bosses. The casino management cared so little about their employees that, according to Sean “Everything you do is watched and nitpicked and the slightest mess up will get you written up and that’s in a right to work state where your job is on the line every day. We spent long hours on our feet and if you had a bad foot, back, ankle, whatever, you got told ‘Fuck you, get on that floor or we will find someone who will do your job.’” And yet casinos still wonder why their employees steal.
2. People Will Rather Die Than Stop Gambling
Casinos stay in business mainly thanks to the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which makes people keep on gambling no matter what because they’ve already invested too much time and money into a game to just stop. It’s like when you couldn’t beat that Dark Souls boss but if you’d stopped, it meant you missed work, got fired, and soiled yourself for NOTHING, so you keep playing until your feces and urine cause you to literally fuse to the sofa.
People like that, especially gamblers, often get into a trance of sorts that makes them ignore everything around them… even threats to their lives.
Chris, a slot technician from New Mexico, explains: “There was a time that we had to evacuate due to a forest fire that was getting way too close (probably less than 1/4 mile from the casino), and we had to basically force most people to get off their machines so they wouldn’t, you know, die. I’ve also seen the same scenario happen with bomb threats.”
“I have also seen people straight up die at machines.”
“You’d be surprised at how often this happens. It seriously makes my brain sad. I’ve heard stories about casino fires at other places where firefighters have been treated to the sight of people’s corpses burned beyond recognition but still sitting at their favorite games.”
But all those people who burned up because they mistook the fire for an upcoming hot streak are still better than the guys who selfishly dropped dead in front of a slot machine from a heart attack.
“One time, we had a gentleman die at the machine he was playing. No screaming or stumbling or drama, he just slumped over. Bad part was the amount of time that passed before anyone found out he was gone.”
“He sat there for nearly half an hour, slumped over the machine, while guests and workers walked by or even played at the machines next to him.”
Oh great, now all those people’s winnings are freaking cursed!
1. Working In A Casino Teaches You How To Beat It (For A While At Least)
Casinos don’t really discern between cheaters and card counters who use basic math to give themselves a statistical advantage over the house. As far as gambling establishments are concerned, both of those people should be pushed into traffic for messing with the system i.e. “People come into the casino, leave their money, and then fuck right off.”
However, in order to catch cheaters and card counters, the house must first teach employees how to cheat and count cards themselves, which might cause problems for the casino if they ever piss off one of their employees. Case in point:
“When I got fired from surveillance,” Sean explains, “I went to the tables and made double my monthly pay playing blackjack.”
“Stay the hell away from slot machines! You might as well play the Powerball. As for Roulette: no, your system will not work, your friend’s won’t either, or in that one book you read.”
“When I was learning the game in surveillance to catch people counting and cheating I learned about betting systems and practiced them. They had us memorize basic strategy tables and practice them. I watched dealers for hours learning how they shuffled and practiced so I could spot weak dealers. If they are busy being friendly then it gives me time to do some quick statistics in my head. You don’t need to have gotten an A+ in calculus. Hell, I barely passed high school algebra and failed geometry. After surveillance got a hold of me, I could count 3 decks like I’m doing times tables.”
And now Sean is a multimillionaire living inside a house shaped like a fist flipping off his old bosses, right? “I was up $2,000 before the casino manager asked me to please leave. At least they were polite.” Even with the mother of all insider knowledges, all that Sean managed to get out of the casino is a couple of grand. But, no, I’m sure that your system totally works.