As a society, we've had a complicated history with gambling. It's still a common view to see this business as sordid and seedy, so it's no surprise that industry leaders and regulators prefer to use the term "gaming" to shake off the negative associations we have with the word "gambling."

It doesn't help, of course, that the America's de facto gaming capital, Las Vegas, has a history intertwined with organized crime. Funnily enough, some Vegas residents are nostalgic for the days before the mob's old casinos were bought out by major corporations but nonetheless, movies like Casino have done a lot to shape our image of Sin City.

 Worse yet is the issue of gambling addiction where victims can risk financial ruin and intense family strain so quickly that they may not even realize what they've been lured into before it's too late.

Yet despite what some of us may feel about it, the fact remains that gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry with total revenues from commercial casinos alone reaching $37.3 billion back in 2012. Clearly, many of us are still playing and in some cases, our incentives to continue are built into the casinos themselves.

While promises of big money are often able to hook customers, casino owners and designers will also employ some sophisticated tactics to keep them in the house and to keep them coming back. 

With that in mind, we're going to let you in on 13 casino secrets that researchers and gaming employees alike have let slip about the mammoth industry.

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1. The more money you spend, the more interested casinos are in keeping you happy.

Whether it's free buffets, free hotel rooms, cruises, sports tickets or flights, these perks have been described by industry watchdogs like Robert Williams of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute as "throwing gasoline on a fire." Research on government-owned casinos in Canada has uncovered about $405 million is spent on these "comps" each year designed to feed gambling habits.

Of course, the most common and effective of this effect comes from the free drinks players receive when they're gaming. After all, something that impairs judgement and removes inhibitions can prove highly effective at ramping up risky behavior.

2. Casino employees also know when you're trying to get free drinks.

If a player is sitting at the penny slots and only making bets when servers walk by, they're probably not going to get much free booze. This is because wait staff and bartenders can actually get in trouble if they're giving away drinks to players who aren't covering the costs with their gaming.

It usually takes about $10 of spending for each comped drink and bartenders can tell how much players have put into a machine because they have access to the casino's tracking systems. 

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3. You're not likely to see a window or clock from the casino floor.

3. You're not likely to see a window or clock from the casino floor.
Antoine Taveneaux |  Las Vegas In Pictures

This practice ensures gamblers lose track of how much time they've spent playing, which makes them more likely to continue until they've lost a lot of money.

4. The lights and sounds of a casino are intentionally chaotic.

Canadian researchers found that adding an array of lights and sounds to gambling influences players to make riskier decisions. After all, it's hard to think straight when everything around you is exciting and stimulating your senses.

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Yet there's an even subtler way that casinos will try to disorient you.

5. Casino carpets are ugly on purpose.

5. Casino carpets are ugly on purpose.
Wired - Chris Maluszynski / MOMENT

Dave Schwartz at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas described them as "an exercise in deliberate bad taste that somehow encourages people to gamble." At this point, it's unclear how this works, but it may have to do with keeping a surreal atmosphere in the casino.

6. Casino owners often don't care if banned players come back.

6. Casino owners often don't care if banned players come back.
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A banned player will likely get kicked back out if they were ejected for security reasons but otherwise, they're usually free to come back and play.

However, the catch is that if they hit the jackpot, casino staff will notice they're on the banned list and confiscate their winnings. In other words, a banned player can only lose money by coming back.

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7. Some casinos hire undercover cops to pretend to be players.

7. Some casinos hire undercover cops to pretend to be players.
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According to a former employee, these cops are often stationed in the bathrooms because it's illegal for casinos to place security cameras in there.

And there's another important fact to remember when dealing with casino security.

8. Vegas security guards aren't allowed to do as much as you might think. 

Unless they suspect you of committing a felony, they're not allowed to ask you to empty your pockets, turn over your cell phone or even give them your ID other than to check your age.

This becomes important if you're asked to follow them to the "back room." According to Las Vegas attorney Andrew Blumen, security staff can only detain you if they think you've committed a crime, at which point you can ask that they call the police immediately. If they have nothing to go on, they're not likely to do that, which means they'll just have to escort you out.

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9. Some gamblers won't leave their seats for anything, even the bathroom.

If they think they have a lucky machine or they're close to a big win, it's not unheard of for patrons to poop themselves right at the slot machine and keep playing until staff members notice.

10. That feeling of almost winning is the biggest moneymaker a casino can have.

10. That feeling of almost winning is the biggest moneymaker a casino can have.
YouTube |  Random $$ Slots

Researchers at the University of Exeter in England have found that the reward centers of the brain are triggered almost as strongly by coming close to hitting the jackpot as they are during a win. This led the research team to conclude that players could be more motivated to keep gambling after a near miss.

This effect hasn't gone unnoticed by the gaming industry, as the patent application for video slot machines noted,"It is important to make a machine that is perceived to present greater chances of payoff than it actually has."

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11. Casinos are often designed to be as maze-like as possible.

11. Casinos are often designed to be as maze-like as possible.
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This not only makes it difficult to leave without passing more games but also ensures that the routes to other features such as the buffet or the bathrooms take you deeper into the casino.

While some modern architects have been moving away from this design choice in the past 30 years, a more traditional casino will ensure that all roads lead back to the games. 

12. Keno is the worst game you can play if you're trying to win money.

The odds are usually against you at a casino anyway, but there's an at least 25% house advantage with Keno and they keep your original bet no matter what you win. With other games like blackjack, you get both your winnings and your wager if you win.

It's for this reason that experienced gamblers often advise others not to play Keno as a general rule. 

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13. Many casinos will cash personal checks.

The practice has drawn criticism from industry watchdogs like Rob Hunter from the Problem Gambling Center, who said, "The idea of having an entire check in $100 bills and two free drink coupons is inherently dangerous for the problem gambler."

At the same time, the policy also appeals to non-gamblers because there's no charge or requirement to set up an account, which leads some patrons to prefer casinos over check cashing centers and banks. 

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