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Do casinos pump in oxygen?
Status: Urban legend
Do casinos pump extra oxygen into the air in order to make gamblers feel more energized? I've heard this rumor quite often. The Betfirms.com blog uses some common sense to debunk it:

According to my Captain at the local Fire Department, “pumping oxygen 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.” As for the risk/reward opportunity, no casino would ever entertain the thought.

That makes sense. It wouldn't be good for a casino to encourage fires to spread, especially since people like to smoke a lot while gambling.

Betfirms.com traces the legend back to Mario Puzo's book, Fools Die, in which Puzo described a fictional Las Vegas Casino, Xanadu, that pumped in oxygen.

But casinos definitely do pump in smells, which they believe encourage people to gamble more. (They tend not to identify the smells, because they don't want to give away trade secrets.) In Elephants on Acid I described a 1991 experiment conducted on the gaming floor of the Las Vegas Hilton, in which it was found that gamblers exposed to a pleasant odor spent 45% more money at the machines than those who were not exposed to the odor. A lot of retail stores have also bought into the "smell sells" theory. Though I think it's more marketing hype than reality.
Categories: Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 10, 2008
Comments (9)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
Marketing hype? Don't tell me you've never walked past a Cinnabon store in a mall. Why do you think they vent their baking odors out to the mall rather than outdoors?
Posted by Joan  on  Mon Mar 10, 2008  at  10:07 AM
Sure, the smell of cinnamon rolls is good advertising because it's the smell of the product itself. But would the smell of cinnamon rolls also make you more inclined to buy a new set of luggage or a new cellphone? That's what the smell-sells advocates claim. I think that theory smells like baloney.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Mar 10, 2008  at  12:10 PM
The casinos pump in the "new car" smell so that you start thinking you'll win a new car. Or maybe, it's expensive perfume they pump in so you begin thinking you can afford an expensive call girl.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Mar 10, 2008  at  12:16 PM
Besides creating a raging inferno, I'd think an even bigger risk, from the casino operators' point of view, would be that the extra oxygen would make the gamblers' brains function better. They'd then see that they were all being played for suckers, and high-tail it out of the clip joint.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Gregory, Texas  on  Mon Mar 10, 2008  at  02:05 PM
As a former Floor Manager at Foxwoods Resort Casino in CT, I can definitely confirm that that particular casino uses pleasant fragrances to make gamblers feel more comfortable. Other things: Very few windows and ambiguous lighting (not overly bright or dark) on the gaming floor give a 'timeless' feeling. Also, try finding a clock. If gamblers get no outside stimulus regarding the passage of time, they're much more likely to spend more time at the tables.

Bring a watch and leave your ATM card at home. You'll spend less money.
Posted by Adam  in  CT  on  Wed Apr 02, 2008  at  04:56 PM
Yes of course they can
Posted by Play Poker  in  London  on  Sun May 11, 2008  at  01:01 PM
Also heard the oxygen and smells thing.
However, I heard baby powder/talc is used.

or something that smells like that

never smelt it myself though
Posted by Duke Nukem  in  South Africa  on  Fri May 16, 2008  at  10:07 AM
Realistically, if one accepts that climate control for human comfort consists of monitoring and manipulating the temperature and humidity, then why wouldn't a profit seeking enterprise also consider the effects of oxygen content on the spending habits of its patrons? Perhaps they don't 'pump' oxygen into an environment but rather they monitor the effect oxygen content has on behavior and then seek to maintain that level of oxygen through proper ventilation etc.
Posted by Gromit  on  Thu Dec 18, 2008  at  12:36 AM
I'm going along with Adam on this one, watched a few TV shows detailing how Casino's keep people in and all those factors he mentioned were there. The thought of riches and copious amounts of alcohol usually suffice.
Posted by Printable Bingo  in  United Kingdom  on  Sun Feb 28, 2010  at  01:42 PM
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