Jan 09, 2019

Does the House Always Win?


When the word “Casino” comes to mind, you probably think of bright lights, fancy hotels, elegant people in gorgeous clothes, glitz, glamour and a whole lot of craziness. After all, that’s the general image portrayed in movies and TV shows. Casinos often even brighter, louder and crazier than you may imagine!


Gambling has been around for longer than we can trace, but “casinos” originated from the “ridotti”. Around the 16th Century, a gambling craze overtook Italy, and aristocrats began to host private parties for the prime purpose of gambling. These parties were not strictly legal, but that didn’t seem to bother authorities too much! It was only around 1638 that the Government of Venice recognized the economic potential in gambling and legalized it. Thus, the ridotto was open - a 4-storeyed building with rooms for gambling as well as service of food and beverages.



This was the first government-run casino. It was also the first one open to the public. 


That was four centuries ago. Today, gambling is a whole different ballgame. Casinos are designed with extreme and precise attention to every tiny detail. After all, the purpose of a casino is to attract customers to visit and risk their hard-earned money… so they need to be inviting!


Casinos are made to look larger-than-life and are extremely expensive. With the finest tiles in the world, lush carpets and dim lighting, casinos bring a sense of excitement. They even display major prizes to make it seem like anything is possible! Free food and free drinks are set out in hopes to encourage customers to keep spending and keep the joie de vivre flowing. 


The games themselves are specifically designed to give the casinos a statistical advantage. The more money risked by more people, the more the casino earns to pay for the fancy buildings, hotels, pools, and environment that surrounds the casinos. As they say, “The house always wins!”



It’s for a similar reason that chips are used in casinos rather than real cash. While, of course, this helps the casino track how much money is going in and out, the main reason is that it makes money a more abstract concept. That means that gamblers don’t feel as bad when they lose chips… thus risking more and more on the tables!



The most famous casino games in the world include Keno, Baccarat, Poker, Slot Machines, Video Poker, Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, Pai Gow, etc. Plus there are the slot machines for the casual gamblers!



When you think of Casinos, the traditional destination is Las Vegas, the party capital of the world. However, you may be surprised to find that Macau has overtaken Vegas by a mile when it comes to gambling revenue! In 2017, Macau’s gambling revenue had reportedly ballooned, going up to $28 billion in revenue, as compared to Las Vegas’ $6.4 billion.


Vegas edges out Macau in terms of revenue through food, drinks and entertainment, but it’s still staggering to see that a place of 29 square kilometres has overtaken the gambling Mecca!


Two-thirds of Macau’s 30 million annual visitors are Chinese, and it appears that Macau visitors are more serious gamblers! It’s said that one of the reasons Macau has overtaken Vegas is that people are much more focused on their gambling. In fact, it’s normal for gamblers in Macau to consume caffeinated drinks over alcohol to make them aware, something that would never happen in Vegas.


It’s believed that Singapore too will soon overtake Vegas in gambling revenue (despite having just two casinos!).



If you’re heading to Macau, Singapore or even Vegas for an evening of gambling, remember that the shining façade has a seamier side. A large chunk of casinos’ profits comes from those with a severe gambling addiction. It's a fun activity if you have money to spare, but an easy trap to fall into. The adrenaline rush is undeniable, so keep an eye open to your own emotions and keep a clear budget beyond which you will not spend. With that said, everyone should get that casino experience once! Just gamble responsibly… and all the best!


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