The relationship between the casino player and the casino is a funny one.
We love going to them, we enjoy the games, but we are often untrusting of the people who work there and especially of the people who own the businesses.
That can even develop into real negativity, to the point where some players practically despise the casinos even though they play at them a lot.
This negativity can lead some people to believe that casinos are borderline scam artists playing dirty tricks to separate you from your money, and plenty of urban myths of this type have popped up over the years that are still passed on today.
Of course, the idea that the casino wants you to spend as much money with them as possible is true – that’s what all businesses want – and yes they do certain things to try and get you to spend more, like bring free drinks, and schmooze high rollers, and remove clocks and windows where possible etc.
However, the carpets are not designed to hypnotise you and machines aren’t all in cahoots to stop paying out the second you sit down. Honestly, some of the myths around casinos being rigged or set up are hilarious, and we will go through the best of them below.
Some of these untruths can only apply to online casinos, while some can only apply to brick-and-mortar casinos, and one or two could potentially apply to both.
For ease, we will split the article into an online and an offline section, dealing with those awkward myths that fall into both categories wherever they seem to fit best.
First though, let’s quickly look into why these myths exist, and why people might believe them.
Why do People Believe Casino Myths?
The ‘unknown’ can do funny things to a person’s minds.
We can become increasingly irrational when we don’t understand something, and this can also trigger reactions of fear and/or anger as our fight or flight mechanisms that have developed since we were cave men kick in.
Think of being alone in a forest in the dark and hearing strange noises. It’s probably just the trees creaking in the wind, or an animal in the undergrowth, but we allow ourselves to believe we are in danger because we don’t 100% know that we are not.
We might get scared and run away, or we might become aggressive and shout threateningly at the perceived threat, but in both cases, we are reacting to nothing.
In fact, many studies have shown that unpredictability is more unsettling than certain knowledge about something unpleasant.
In one study, a group of participants were told they would get a small electric shock, it was 100% going to happen; another group were told they had a 50% chance of getting a small electric shock.
Those with a 50/50 chance showed far higher levels of anxiety than those with a 100% chance.
It’s not quite so dramatic in a casino – they tend to leave the lights on for a start and there have been very few trees in the casinos I have visited, let alone electric shocks – but all of the games have an element of unpredictability to them, and most of us don’t fully understand how they really work.
For example, with blackjack we can see the cards the dealer is dealing, but we don’t know how the shuffling machine works. What’s going on in that little black box? What technological wizardry is taking place that might be able to stack the cards in a certain order?
We can see the roulette wheel and the ball, but we can’t touch them, and who knows what magnets or electronic pulses have been built into them to control the result?
Slot machines. All we see is the screen, the rest is all controlled electronically inside the machine. It could be programmed to tease us with small wins and then go cold, couldn’t it? Or to stop paying out if we get a lucky spin.
In short, it’s the not knowing that makes our brains start to wonder. It’s the lack of control over the outcome that opens a door in the mind leading to a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.
Perhaps if we all understood the technology behind the games a little better, there would be less need for myth busting.
Online Casino Myths
The following are some of the biggest myths about online casinos specifically.
There may well be some others that you have heard, and just because they are not included here, it doesn’t mean that they are true.
The Casino Will Make Up Excuses Not to Pay Out if you Win
This one probably comes from the bi-annual headlines that the UK media love to splash when large payouts are delayed or refused for genuine reasons.
It’s true that this sometimes happens, but it’s never been a case of the casino simply deciding that they would rather keep the money.
Problems with payouts can occur for a number of reasons, such as failing to properly prove your identity or refusing to supply certain documents that casinos are required by law to see. This is to stop money laundering and underage gambling.
There have been other incidents where a technical error has causes a losing spin to display as a winning spin.
We know we know, this sounds shady as hell, but it’s a real thing. An online slot’s RNG will decide the outcome of a spin before the player sees the result, and it is the result recorded by the RNG that counts.
What the player sees is just a set of graphics and animations.
Very rarely, a machine can get gremlins in the system and show a set of graphics that don’t match the outcome the RNG has told it to represent.
These are anomalies though. Legally registered online casinos will usually pay out without a hitch provided everything is in order; their license to operate depends on it, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to effectively destroy their own business just to rip off Barry from Coventry for a few grand.
The Games Can Freeze if you Win Too Much
They really can’t.
Online casino games are all run centrally by the people who develop them, not by the casinos. The casinos just host the games, which is why the same games are available on hundreds of different sites.
The casino has no way of altering the way the game behaves, only the developer can do that.
The game you are playing could be being played by hundreds or thousands of other players on loads of different online casinos all around the world at exactly the same time.
You really think they are watching each player at each casino individually and ‘freezing’ the game when they have won too much? How would that work if the game was being played by several players at the same online casino?
The idea doesn’t even make sense in the first place. The games are all weighted in the casino’s favour anyway, the RTP sees to that, so there is no need to fiddle them. They have an unbeatable edge built in that ensures the casinos make money from them over the long term.
If a game freezes, it’s because of an error, and most of the time this will be at your end, not the developer’s. Dodgy internet is a common culprit.
Games are sometimes taken down for maintenance in order for developers to fix bugs etc., so you could get unlucky, but the game records each spin so if you have already hit the spin button then the result of that spin will stand whether you see the outcome on your screen or not.
Your Spin Timing Can Control the Outcome of a Slot
An online slot is run by a random number generator (RNG) that cycles through thousands of potential outcomes a second, then chooses one after you decide to play the game.
That’s the result of the spin or hand, and nothing can change it.
Technically then, when you hit the spin button (or the deal button, whatever is relevant for the game) will dictate the result, but the RNG is running through those options so quickly that even if you knew what they were it would be impossible to stop it with any accuracy.
It would be like trying to time ducking a bullet.
You also have no idea what the outcomes are or what order they are running in, so frankly, this is a ridiculous myth.
It’s just a way that players can convince themselves they have some sort of control, or can spot some sort of pattern, which our brains love to do.
In reality, any pattern you notice or control you convince yourself you have is all in your head, and each spin is as close to random as it is possible to get.
You Will Only Win if you Bet the Maximum Amount
Another myth that probably comes from a place of truth.
There are some games that require the player to make bets of a certain size in order to qualify for particular features.
For example, a slot with a big jackpot might only pay out to someone playing £1 spins or higher; or a jackpot might be more ‘likely’ to fall for those who make bigger bets.
For a regular slot though, or the base game of a jackpot slot for that matter, the amount you bet per spin has no bearing on your chances of winning.
Of course, the amount you can win will be directly related to the amount you stake because winnings are always a multiple of the stake, but it will not impact your chances.
All games have a return to player percentage (RTP) built into them which the machine must hit over the long term, and since this is handled on percentage the amount you bet doesn’t matter.
After all, 10p is 10% of a £1 in the same way that £10 is 10% of £100.
So you can’t butter up a machine by feeding it bigger stakes – just stick to stake sizes you feel comfortable with and enjoy the game.
Slot Streamers are all Fake
You might not have seen these guys.
There are a small group of people who earn money by playing online slots live in front of other people.
They share their screens as well as recording themselves and their reactions, and other people watch live via platforms like twitch or Youtube, and can also watch after the fact.
Sometimes these streamers also act as slot reviewers, but their main purpose is to hype up the game.
You often see them with huge balances, betting huge amounts, and therefore winning huge amounts too, and they play an awful lot so those big hits will happen more to streamers than most regular players.
For instance, someone playing 10,000 spins a day is obviously going to hit big wins more often than someone playing 100 spins a day, statistically speaking.
Anyway, many players accuse streamers of being fake or playing fixed games, because they don’t understand how they can win so much and so often.
The reality is, that while there are some fake streamers out there, the ones who are doing it properly are real players playing real games.
All is not quite as it seems though, because they usually have deals with the casinos they are playing at, who give them bonus money or huge deposit bonuses and things like that. Private deals basically, in order to promote the casino and the game.
This, combined with their frequency of play means they will have more exciting runs than the rest of us.
They can also edit their content to only show the best most exciting wins, and cut out all the dead spins in between, so there are multiple factors here that create an unrealistic version of events, but they are not playing rigged games.
Online Casinos are all Run by Dodgy Offshore Companies
While almost all gambling companies that operate in the UK are based somewhere other than the UK, that doesn’t automatically make them dodgy.
In fact, the majority of the really big brands have been established in this country for decades and specifically moved their headquarters to the small island countries for tax purposes.
Places like Gibraltar, Malta, and the Isle of Man are all popular destinations for gambling companies looking to save money on their tax bill, but although their official ‘base’ is offshore, in reality the majority of their operation is run from the UK.
For example, here are a few companies you will no doubt recognise along with where they are registered:
- Betfred – Gibraltar
- William Hill – Gibraltar
- Bet365 – Malta
- Microgaming – Isle of Man
- LeoVegas – Malta
So you see, offshore doesn’t mean dodgy at all – you don’t need to worry about Betfred doing a runner, do you?
Any online casino you can access in the UK should have a UK gambling license though, and this means they have been vetted by the UK Gambling Commission and have shown that they meet the criteria set by the legislator to operate legally and responsibly in this country.
By law, they must have a link to their license on their website, and it can be found in small writing at the very bottom of each page.
If it doesn’t have a link to a UK license (and licenses for other countries don’t count) then it may be dodgy, but if it does, then you should be just fine.
Many companies have licenses in more than one jurisdiction, so if you spot a license for somewhere else as well as a UK one that’s not a problem, it’s only if they don’t have a UK license at all that you need to be cautious.
Do check the link as well to make sure it’s legit.
Real Life Casino Myths
Moving from the digital world into the real world then, and there are actually more myths here than with online casinos.
Possibly because they have been around longer, and possibly because there is a face to face element, but there are some real howlers in amongst this lot.
All Casinos are Rigged
The rules to every single game in the casino have been written in the house’s favour, so players are at a disadvantage every time they take a seat at a table or a stool at a machine, but this is all laid out plainly for anyone to see.
The casino makes the games unfair in order to give themselves an edge that makes them money and pays their bills (and their children’s private education).
This edge will always work out in their favour over the long term, and even if they lose more than they take from a few players who go home happy, there will be far more losers than winners each night.
Just like any other business, casinos are also set up to function in a way that encourages you to spend as much as you can afford, be that with special offers or complimentary drinks or hotel rooms, etc. All businesses do this for their clients, and the more money you make them, the better you are treated.
This doesn’t mean they are ‘rigged’ though.
You accept the deal when you walk into a casino and tick the terms and conditions box, you know what you are letting yourself in for.
Casinos have ways to upsell their players sure, but they aren’t trying to trick you or doing anything underhand. The whole industry is heavily regulated in the UK, with machines and venues being visited often to check that everything is in order.
Their license to continue trading relies on things being found to be fair and proper, so risking this to earn a few extra quid from you and your mates would be professional suicide, and totally not worth it.
The Carpets are Designed to Disorientate You
The carpets in casinos do tend to be swirly and multi-coloured and what have you, but we are yet to hear of a case where a carpet has been proved to be the cause of someone’s gambling losses!
It’s not entirely clear just how a carpet is supposed to be able to subliminally manipulate your behaviour (secret instructions sewn into the pattern, perhaps?) but there are people who really believe this.
The real reason for the vibrancy of most casino carpets, is to make it easier to cover stains from spilled drinks, food, and cigarette ash.
If you look at the seats on buses or the London Underground you will see a similar thing. Or a Wetherspoons carpet for that matter.
A plain carpet would show up every mark and stain horribly, but carpets that will get a lot of use in public spaces are designed to combat that to some degree, and possibly even represent the casino in some way; brand colours for example.
It’s not magic, stains still show up, but the pattern disguises them to a point.
Don’t get us wrong, casinos do clean up spills, hoover throughout the day, and properly clean dirty areas to remove stains, but over many years of use the muck will accumulate so the design can just help get some extra life out of them before they are very expensively replaced.
Casinos Pump Oxygen into the Room to Keep you Playing
Another brilliant myth is that casinos pump pure oxygen into the room using the air con to stop players getting sleepy and keep them playing longer.
There is an awful lot to laugh at with this one.
Firstly, bottled oxygen ain’t cheap, and a system that would pump it around a building wouldn’t be cheap to install or maintain either.
It would be like the casinos spending an extra £10 to make an extra £5, it just doesn’t add up – and casinos understand how to make the numbers work as we all know.
Secondly, in many countries including America, smoking is still allowed inside casinos. Smoking requires naked flames, and naked flames like oxygen. A lot.
For a fire to light, it needs a minimum of 16% oxygen in the air. The air we breathe is just 21% oxygen, so pumping 100% oxygen into the room would be a massive fire hazard.
Oxygen itself isn’t flammable, but in oxygen rich environments flammable materials ignite much more easily and fire burns quicker and hotter, so it spreads alarmingly quickly too.
It’s true that oxygen can make you more alert, but exposure to too much of it is also bad for your health.
This is just not something that happens in casinos…
Card Counting is Illegal
We can’t believe there is anybody out there that still believes this, but it comes up time and time again.
Card counting is in no way illegal. You are not breaking any laws anywhere in the world counting cards. What you are doing is using your brain to gain an advantage.
The confusion may well come from the fact that casinos don’t like card counters and do their best to spot them and throw them out, and sometimes the police get involved because of this.
Card counting is not illegal, but it is against the rules of the casino.
A casino is a private business operating in a private venue, so they can set any rules they want; they could also kick you out for wearing the colour purple if they decided this new rule needed to be implemented and it was in their terms.
The reason the police might end up involved, is because card counters sometimes argue with the casino after being asked to leave, or because the casino refuses to cash out the chips the card counter has at the time of being asked to leave.
It’s the refusal to comply with the request to leave that is the issue as far as the police are concerned, not the counting of cards. Or, in the case of refusal to cash out, the need to settle the argument over whether the player should be paid or not.
Professional card counters know what they are doing is against the house rules and do their best to disguise it, so they know it is ‘wrong’, but no one has ever gone to jail for counting cards.
Hot and Cold Slots
Slots do sometimes feel like they are hot or cold, don’t they? We can assure you though that it is all down to chance.
The idea that a casino or slot developer can tell a machine to go hot or cold is wrong.
The machine is programmed to operate via a highly complex maths model that dictates how volatile the game should be, and what RTP it should run at.
The volatility is how often it pays out compared to how much (so low volatility would be frequent small payouts, and high volatility would be infrequent large payouts), and the RTP is how much the machine gives back out in total in relation to how much is put in by players (so a game with a 96% RTP would give back 96p for every £1 it takes over a very long time period).
However, the way the machine balances this over such a long period of time means that it is possible to play ten spins on a highly volatile machine and win every time, then play ten spins of a very low volatility machine and not win a penny.
So a machine might be going through a hot or a cold patch to your eyes, but it’s not for any particular reason and it can turn on a dime.
Think of it like this; the game isn’t operating to the time period you decide to play for, so the parameters for what counts as a period in which the machine can be considered to be hot or cold are impossible to draw.
If ten players each play 100 spins on the same machine, and the fifth player wins on every single spin, you might say they sat down while the machine was ‘hot’. Now zoom out. What if all nine of the other plays lost every single spin? Just 100 wins out of 1,000 spins – that machine is cold isn’t it?
It depends on the parameters, but you don’t set those, so any sense of a machine being hot or cold is fabricated by you.
No slot machine is programmed to become hot or cold, it’s just something that happens naturally, in the same way that flipping a coin millions of times would have periods where heads landed more often than tails, and the other way around too.
It’s not because the machine/coin is hot or cold, it’s just the way randomness works.
There are Secret Betting Systems That can Beat the House
All betting systems are flawed, that’s just a fact.
Many work up to a point, but when the rules and/or processes of the casino are taken into account, they will fail you.
The Martingale is arguably the most famous and the closest to being successful.
In brief, the system works by doubling your stake after any losing even money bet. In this way, when you eventually win you will gain back all of your losses up to that point, plus the return on that eventual win.
The issue is that you need an infinite bankroll and a game with no upper betting limit to ensure you can get out of a losing streak successfully.
For example; if you lose 10 times in a row from a £5 bet, after doubling your stake for each new bet you would be £5,115 down and need to bet £5,120 on the next game just to break even.
Have you got that sort of money? We haven’t. Plus, if the table limit is £5k, you’re screwed.
These systems can work out in the short term, but the longer you play, the less effective they become.
Like everything else in the world of casinos, over the long term the casino will get their edge, and you will lose.
Dealers Can Influence the Outcome of the Game
Yes, they have a little switch under the table which says “Win/Lose” and if they flip it the game behaves differently.
That was sarcasm just in case you didn’t pick it up.
The only way a dealer can influence the game is by cheating, and nowadays that is incredibly hard to do because the casinos watch their employees just as closely as they watch the players.
Actually, when it did used to happen more often, it was usually the dealer in cahoots with a player or simply stealing from the casino for themselves.
Some people think dealers can spin the roulette wheel so that the ball lands in a certain slot or area, but this is massively debateable, and doesn’t provide the sort of accuracy that would make it worthwhile even if it could be done.
A dealer could technically have a pre-stacked shoe of cards or something like that, and have memorised the order, but they don’t get paid enough for that, and why would the casino go to the hassle anyway?
As we have said numerous times, all casino games have an edge built in which makes the casino money regardless.
For it to be financially worthwhile, the cheating would need to be on a massive scale, and a casino would lose their license to operate if they were found guilty of cheating to that sort of level.
What’s more, they would need to have all of their dealers in on it, which would cost them more in wages not to mention exposing them to possible whistleblowing from hundreds of past and current employees, all of whom might also club together to extort the casino in return for silence.
None of it makes sense when the casino can just sit back and play the games properly, and earn their money in the long run easily, safely, and legally.