There is a popular myth out there that casinos in Las Vegas pump small amounts oxygen through the central air system to enrich the ether with “the good stuff.” The theory behind this? Supposedly, the O2 keeps the bettor awake longer and creates a mental state of euphoria, meaning that cash players will be more likely to give away big money on wild wagers.
As a long-time veteran of the industry, I can assure you that the tale is an urban legend that doesn’t have any real fact behind it. What comes to mind every time I hear this rumor are the three Apollo astronauts who died when a small spark combined with oxygen ignited their space capsule creating one of NASA’s worst disasters. It’s a really bad idea to pump any amount of O2 – it could not only kill customers but also burn down the casino.
According to the Las Vegas Fire Department, “pumping O2 into a casino would be a tremendous fire hazard that would greatly increase the flammability of all other objects. Any small fire, anywhere in the hotel, would be fanned and magnify itself by pumped oxygen.” Due to an incredible risk and low reward, no casino would ever entertain the thought of such a “brainwashing” tactic involving flammable gases.
The myth, however, brings up an important point. The house may not be getting you high by pumping various gases or elements around the place, but that doesn’t mean it’s not trying to trick you – whether you’re gambling in person or betting on athletics or political events from home.
Dealer tactics and other subtle persuasion techniques built into a casino are well-documented, so we don’t need to spend much time on that here. I’ll tell you my favorites, though – many River Boat casinos are designed to look and feel like arcades, giving customers what look like old skee-ball tokens in exchange for their dollars. That’s no accident – arcades are “fun” and its easy to forget you’re putting real money down. Another good trick is when a slot machine pays out, but doesn’t light up like a jackpot winner. That encourages the slots player to keep trying for a show-stopping avalanche of coin, when in reality, they are well ahead already and forgetting to count.
But since this is a sports touting site, let’s focus on something your favorite sports book does to keep your mind safely tucked inside your wallet – next to the money you’re about to unwisely lay down.
Books will capitalize on hype surrounding any well-publicized sporting event – for instance a prize-fight. For instance, in the upcoming Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather bout, some of the lines on either McGregor or Mayweather scoring a knockout in the 1st round are remarkably similar. Given that Mayweather is a cautious, defensive fighter 100 times out of 100, that’s ridiculous. But bettors lured by the “hype” that maybe, just maybe, the UFC superstar will take the long-shot hoping for bragging rights on an historic upset.
People who prefer to take the underdog should wager on McGregor to win. That’s fine, but the 1st-round knockout odds are a hoodwink given the style of his opponent.
Or consider NCAA football. Though the Navy Midshipmen should probably be considered on level footing with Notre Dame these days (the Middies’ 2016 win over #6 Houston despite having way-too many injuries was more impressive than anything the Irish did all season), the Irish are always more likely to be an odds-on favorite each time the 2 teams play, which is every year. Notre Dame’s golden helmets alone are usually worth 2 or 3 points against-the-spread. That’s just the product of a very hyped team, so beware.
Those are just 2 examples of how those setting the lines don’t need to drug the air – those who don’t research are already easy marks for them.
Now, back to the ridiculous rumor of pumping oxygen. It does have a starting point. I believe ground zero is Mario Puzo’s work of fiction Fools Die where the practice of pumping oxygen was a facet of the mythical Las Vegas casino Xanadu. That’s Mario Puzo of The Godfather fame.
Maybe one day, casinos will try decreasing the O2 to disorient players even more than they already are.