Posted on: July 29, 2022, 10:17h.
Last updated on: July 29, 2022, 11:38h.
What happens in Vegas is often fake news. A surprising number of alternative facts about the world’s gambling capital continue to resonate across pop culture, with little relevance to reality. Today, we address whether casinos pump oxygen onto casino floors in order to keep players alert and playing more.
“The rumor regarding the pumping of oxygen into casinos is not true,” Tony Cabot, distinguished fellow in gaming law at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told Casino.org.
Pants on Fire!
A typical Las Vegas casino contains 1 million cubic liters of air. To raise the oxygen level just a single percent — according to the Arizona heating, venting and air conditioning company Parker & Sons — would use more than 40,000 cubic meters of oxygen gas every day, an incredible expense.
More importantly, it would create a fire hazard, because air with greater than the normal 21% oxygen is more of an accelerant, making any open flame burn hotter, faster, and at a lower temperature. (The oxygen itself isn’t flammable.) This would violate all casino fire insurance policies, and if a fire were to break out, the investigation would lead to a public relations nightmare.
“Casinos do a number of things to encourage people to continue to play,” Cabot said. “But pumping in oxygen is not one of them. It’s just one of those myths about Las Vegas that people like to spread.”
An Author You Can’t Refuse
It turns out this myth springs from the fertile imagination of The Godfather author Mario Puzo. In his 1978 novel, Fools Die, casino owner Alfred Gronevelt places a regular 2 a.m. call to his building engineer “to pump pure oxygen through the casino air-conditioning system to keep the gamblers from getting sleepy.”
In the 44 years since, conspiracy theorists have circulated this fiction as fact. Even some legit media sources have joined in. (One 2006 BBC article builds the myth up as true to make the point that “such psychological trickery would be banned in Britain.”)
Tricks Casinos Do Use
Casinos do fill the air with things to entice players to keep playing. These include loud music, pleasant scents, and freezing air-conditioning. They also don’t display any clocks on their walls.
“You’re not going to see clocks in almost any casino, because they would alert patrons that it’s time to leave, which is not in the casino’s best interest,” Cabot said. “For the same reason, very few casinos have windows that face the outside, since customers could judge the time of day by the amount of light coming in.”
As for whether casinos make it hard to find the exits on purpose, Cabot replied, “Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. But you’ll notice that the exits are such that they don’t allow visible light in to where the players are playing.”
Check for “Busting Las Vegas Myths” every Friday on Casino.org.