You stride into the casino brimming with confidence, wallet in hand, planning to enjoy a few hours of enjoyable, sensible gaming and maybe two rounds of cocktails. Hours later, you don’t know what time it is or where your money went. You’re irritated, but you can’t quite put your finger on why.

As a business, casinos want to make as much money as possible from patrons who gamble. They do this by encouraging players to gamble for longer periods of time, so they can collect more bets and more profits. To do this, they use a variety of tricks, including smells, lights and physical design to create a manufactured bliss that makes it hard for gamblers to leave.

In the world of gambling, there is one thing that is certain: the house always wins. Every game has a built-in advantage that guarantees the casino will make a profit, and it is very rare for a player to walk away with more chips than they began with. Casinos know this, and they offer big bettors extravagant inducements like free spectacular entertainment, luxurious transportation, rooms in the adjacent hotel, and more to keep them gambling away their money.

Casinos also avoid natural light and use strategically placed paths to keep you from seeing other sections of the facility, ensuring that whenever you think about leaving to go to the bathroom or get food, you will find yourself drawn back toward the tables and machines by a lure that’s impossible to resist. These tricks, when combined with a blaring soundtrack of music and coins clinking, can make you forget that you are losing your money hand over fist.