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Top 5 Facts About Casinos and Gambling

VOICE OVER: Chris Masson
Written by Max Lett

Casinos and the gambling that goes on inside may seem like completely harmless and wholesome pastimes, but is it possible–just maybe– that there's a dark and treacherous underbelly to all the glitz and glamour? Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this instalment, we're counting down the most interesting and kind of ridiculous facts about casinos and gambling.

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Transcript
Written by Max Lett

Top 5 Facts About Casinos and Gambling



Casinos and the gambling that goes on inside may seem like completely harmless and wholesome pastimes, but is it possible–just maybe– that there’s a dark and treacherous underbelly to all the glitz and glamour? Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re counting down the most interesting and kind of ridiculous facts about casinos and gambling.

#5: Gambling Might Threaten National Security



Enjoy having a prepared and well-armed military force protecting your borders? Well enjoy no longer because according to a massive pack of research compiled in 2009 under the title “Gambling with National Security, Terrorism, and Military Readiness,” gambling weakens the overall economic engine, which ultimately detrimental to defense spending. On a personal level, gambling addiction doesn’t just affect down on their luck sad sacks, it affects the great American hero as well. G.I Joes are throwing their hard-earned dollars into slot machines and on craps tables, as rates of problem gaming have been on the rise. In fact, Russia stated that gambling was such an extensive threat to its national security and military that it went and closed down over two thousand casinos in 2006.

#4: Flashy Lights and Music Turn Rats Into Gamblers



Have you ever walked into a casino and instantly had a seizure? Well that’s no accident; research from the University of British has proven that flashing lights and music cues encourage gamblers to take bigger risks… At least, for rats. Scientists have manipulated rats into behaving like addictive gamblers by creating a tiny rat casino and flashing lights into their cute little eyes and pumping music into their tiny rat ears. These cues caused the rats to take bigger risks than they otherwise would have while gambling for sugary treats. The rats are reportedly unconcerned by the visual and auditory assault as long as they’re supplied with a constant stream of fresh cocktails and regular ATM withdrawals. By the end of the night, they were taking out ludicrous loans just to keep their addiction hidden from their families– just kidding. The researchers were also able to reverse the behavior chemically, by blocking one particular dopamine receptor linked to addiction, offering hope for actual human addicts in the future.

#3: Citizens of Monaco are Forbidden to Gamble in their Casinos



You heard right, Monegasques are not allowed to gamble in their own casinos, and it isn’t because they’re such good card counters. Charles III, may he rest in peace, implemented this restriction to keep the citizens of Monaco from losing all their money. The monarch is credited with building casinos to bring in foreign money in the late 19th century, a time when Monaco was quite poor. Allowing citizens to drop their coin there, Charles reasoned, would have been counterproductive. Instead, citizens are allowed to work there, as long as they don’t spend a single cent of their money on a game of chance. I imagine that they  instead have to resort to other forms of gambling like betting on when the sun will go down or how much pool balls one can fit in one’s mouth. Or maybe they just play poker online. Yup, they are allowed to send their gambling dollars outside the country. Womp womp.

#2: FedEx was Saved by Blackjack



Fred Smith (actual name) saved his company by bringing their last five thousand dollars to Vegas and betting it on blackjack. Yes, he didn’t just go down to his local racetrack or back alley casino, he went all the way to Vegas. While most people call this embezzlement, Smith was revered for his business savvy. He turned that 5k into 32 thousand dollars, enabling them to pay their weekly $24,000 fuel bill, thereby keeping their planes in the air for a few more critical days. He was then able to raise another $11 million dollars, presumably by not mentioning to investors that has literally gambled with his company’s future. So, FedEx was rescued from financial oblivion and it could go back to shipping packages far later than expected, losing people’s orders and not spending a dime on customer service of any kind. Thanks Vegas!

#1: Near Wins Are As Good As Wins, Says Your Brain

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No, this isn’t a whole lot of Neoliberal “everyone wins” crap, this is science. A whole pack of research says that almost winning at games of chance produces a response in the brain, especially brains of gambling addicts, that is almost as good as actually winning a jackpot. The near win, or “near miss” stimulates that part of your brain in charge of reward processing. But here’s the thing with a near miss: it is, objectively speaking, a loss. For example, you put a dollar into a slot machine, push “spin”, and win twenty-five cents. Your brain says “Win! Do it again!” but your wallet says, “hey, I just lost seventy-five cents” but your brain is like “sorry, can’t hear you over the sound of these ringing bells and dopamine surges!” This in turn causes gamblers to stuff even more of their dollars and dimes into the slots which will then create a better likelihood of near wins thus perpetuating a hellish cycle until the bouncers drag you out into the back alley and ring your bell.

So, do near wins keep you gaming? And does gambling really threaten national security? For more company-saving top 10s and gambled-away-your-kids top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com

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