Make no mistake: The casino always wins. Think about it. You've just won $100. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to keep it? Or are you going to put it back on that table to try to turn that $100 into $1,000? My guess is the latter. Casinos rely on people with no self-control to come in time after time so much so, in fact, that experts say that as much as 50% of gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers.
The result? A whole host of mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, and daughters who don't know when to call it quits on the slot machine. Perhaps the best people to witness this are the ones who work up close and personal with the gamblers themselves. Below, casino workers share the saddest moments they've ever witnessed on the job. From mothers gambling away Christmas money to old guys wearing diapers at the tables, these stories will make you think twice about stepping into a casino.
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#1 Father and Son Time
I was at Hawthorne racetrack in Chicago and this father had brought his son with him. The dad was fully fixed on racing and completely ignored the kid the entire time. You could tell the kid was eager to get dad's attention, but the dad just didn't care and would brush everything off, getting more and more irritated at the kid and at losing. It was sad to watch because it could have been a great chance to bond with his son, but he put gambling ahead of him. It made me wonder how their home life was and I hoped that he at least got some attention then.
#2 Sadness Made Me Quit
I worked a small casino for a couple of years and have seen many sad moments. The sadness ultimately made me quit. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people gamble their entire paycheck away and either cry and leave in shame, or get mad and try to fight the staff.
#3 Gambling Welfare Away
I had an aunt and uncle who worked in one of the casinos up in Black Hawk, Colorado. They would see a spike in business when social security and welfare checks came out. Most of those people would gamble away the only money they received once a month.
#4 Where's Your Baby?
My brother works in a casino. People bring their babies all the time and leave them with slightly older siblings in an adjacent gas station or rest stop. This happens pretty much all day.
An older couple in their '60s would come in almost every night of the week. They are "Avid Experienced Players", or, addicted. She would go upstairs to play slots and he would play cards down stars. One night, a sizable group of executive-level casino employees made their way to her machine and asked her to have a quick word in private. She refused to leave the machine. They attempted again to ask her to speak in private, but she very forcefully declined to leave.
She demanded to know what they wanted, so one of the members let her know that her husband had a heart attack and he was being rushed to a nearby hospital. Her response was, “Give me his wallet.” She went back to the machine. It broke my heart, even when I think about it more than a decade later. He lost his life that night and she didn’t leave until the next morning.
#6 So Cold
One night, people were playing at a row of slot machines. I don’t know if they knew each other, but the one in the middle collapsed and fell to the floor. EMTs were called and they started loading her onto the gurney to wheel her out to the ambulance. The other players just kept feeding the slot machines. They never looked down. They never asked if she was okay. They just kept on playing. So cold.
#7 Poor Women
My wife worked as a manager of the front desk at a casino in Vegas. The thing that bothered her the most was the treatment of the girls that worked on the casino floor. They were actually hired as models, not waitresses, so they were exposed to the most insanely brutal and humiliating body-shaming process regularly. And they could be fired over a five-pound weight gain or becoming pregnant. They all lived in complete fear and the pay was poor.
#8 Bad Stories
Here are a few: Watching multiple families realize that they'd just lost their life savings; Catching a group of kids (they were all over 18, but none were 21) doing substances in the casino parking lot; watching a kid that worked in valet TOTAL a handicapped guy's car that had all of his assistive stuff in it.
#9 Sore Loser
I was fresh out of dealer school and it was only my third day dealing. I was put on a game called Pai-Gow Tiles. It's a very difficult game to learn and I LOVED IT. It is difficult for Americans because we are so used to poker rules. In this game, a pair of fours beats the pair of 10s. Why? No reason!
Anyway, 25 minutes into the game, a guy was betting 50 to 150 consistently for three hours. He built it up to about $3,000. He slid it all on one hand. We wished him good luck. He set his hand, excited showing the table his MONSTER HAND. I, the dealer, pulled what's called Ji-Goon/Teen Bo. It is LITERALLY unbeatable. He slammed the table, the chips flew everywhere, and he began to self-induce vomit. He succeeded. The security was on him within seconds. He's now banned for life.
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#10 Gambling Offender
Not a casino, but a hotel attached to a casino. We sometimes have VIP guests who have their room paid for by the casino. Anyway, one of the regulars had to be dragged out by local PD. Turns out, he robbed a couple of gas stations to fuel his habit.
#11 This Is Sad
My daughter-in-law works at a casino. She does the Black Jack table. The casinos only close twice a year: Chirstmas Day and Easter Sunday. They close at midnight on Christmas eve and they literally have to throw people out. Twenty-four hours later, they re-open and the same people are waiting to come back in.
#12 Don't Take From the Casino
I dealt poker in a casino for three years. One of my fellow dealers was taken into custody on the gaming floor during our shift for stealing rake. I had told him a week or so earlier to be less obvious about it (we had clear tip boxes). He had custody of his four kids... Emphasis on had.
#13 Lost College Money
I was a cashier for the food outlets in the casino. I saw a kid come into the diner inside the casino. He sat down and just stared straight ahead with a blank look on his face. The server went up to him and the kid asked, "How do I tell my parents I just lost my college money?"
#14 Blowing Coins
Not a casino, but I volunteered at a local fireman's carnival bingo night. A 20-something-year-old lady was playing quarter-per-game bingo with roll after roll of silver quarters. I tried explaining to her that they were worth more than a quarter and she didn't care. She kept playing with a look of desperation in her eyes. She never won a game that night. In my mind, she was blowing through a coin collection that her parents or grandparents had carefully put together.
#15 Time To Leave
I once had a player in high limits whose wife came in telling him that they needed to go to the hospital. Apparently, their son had a stroke. He was still there by the end of my shift.
#16 A Taxing Job
I work in surveillance at a casino. You see A LOT of sad stuff. Old people dying, seizures are pretty regular, fights, harassment, people using the bathroom on themselves. I've even had to review footage of offences for the authorities. Casinos don't invite the best kind of people.
#17 Tell It Like It Is
I was in Atlantic City around 20 years ago. I saw an elderly couple crying while talking to a security guard—they were telling him they had no money to pay the tolls to get home. I remember thinking the security guard was a real terrible guy. There was no emotion on his face as he told them they had to leave the casino. After they left though, he announced to everyone who had stopped to listen that the casino had already given them money to get home, which they had turned around and gambled away. I don’t know what was worse: seeing an elderly couple cry, seeing this dude just jaded by his terribly necessary job, or just seeing that side of gambling. I’m grateful I was never bitten by that bug.
#18 This Woman Needs to Be Stopped
I worked with a woman who would gamble away an entire two-week paycheck within fifteen minutes after getting off work, and then she'd start writing checks and hitting the ATM right after. Her family was ruined eventually and things got so bad for them financially. When her husband passed, she got a life insurance settlement and she blew it all on gambling within a month. Her dad lost his life not long after and also left her inheritance. She lost all that within two months. I have no idea what happened to her but she was absolutely insane.
#19 Blew It All
I once witnessed a guy hit a jackpot for $30,000. In my area, that is life-changing money. He was supposed to go see his son in a different state. He went to a different casino and lost the jackpot—and then some. He didn’t go see his son. He didn’t go to his job. He stayed at the casino for a week and lost his job. He lost his truck that he was sleeping in.
#20 This Guy Changed My Life
I went to a casino once and in the washroom, there was a grown man balling his eyes out telling me he lost everything. It still haunts me how utterly destroyed this guy looked. Very, very sad. This was 20 years ago and I haven't stepped foot in one since.
#21 She Needs to Be Stopped
I used to work at a casino. One day, a patron's son came in to tell her to stop and that she couldn't keep gambling the family's money away. She would easily lose over $10,000 on the days she came in. You get pretty desensitized to the plight of the gambler at your table but the yelling son stuck with me.
#22 Stop Gambling!
I dont work at a casino, but I have family that are farmers in a rural part of my state where a casino was built on an Indian reservation. Many, many, many, of my family's neighbors bet and lost their entire farms. My great uncle and his neighbor had purchased a very expensive piece of farm equipment together that they shared that ended up being repossessed because of the neighbor's gambling. My uncle was out of thousands of dollars.
#23 Lottery Sales Gone Wrong
A few years ago I was helping manage a local grocery store and we had a regular. She was always pleasant. She always got her things and left quickly—that is, until the scratch-off dispensing machine was installed. Within less than a month, she went from a chipper, old blonde lady to a strange, wrinkled witch at the scratch-off machine. She'd spend her entire month's social security within a few minutes.
Then, she'd scurry to the next store to test her luck and come back to me. It was an everyday thing that came out of nowhere. She spent her brothers prescription money and begged me to sell her a Powerball ticket because "she might win him some chemo and he'd be thankful". Needless to say, that was one of my last lottery sales.
#24 Small Casino Problems
My parents used to own a small casino (15-ish tables, $100 limits). I worked weekends in the cage. Employees were allowed to gamble off shift. Once, I watched one guy, after getting off of work around 7 p.m., proceed to lose his house payment, car payment, child support, and max out his credit cards by the time we closed at 6 a.m. I wasn't a huge gambler before that, but seeing that firsthand scared me off of taking any chances in a casino beyond casual playing.
#25 Win Big, Lose Big
I don’t work in a casino, but I go to a smaller casino here in Vegas where a lot of locals go to play. A lady once hit $40,000 on a keno game. After she got paid out, she was walking around giving all of her friends and people that she chatted with hundred dollar bills. I left shortly after so I’m not sure if she played more that night. About a week later, she was in there playing every time I went in so I’m sure that money disappeared quickly.
#26 Go Home, People!
It's not the big things, it's the little things. If you see someone rocking three machines at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, they likely have places they should be, not in the casino. The place is smalled on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Mother's Day. Go home, people!
#27 Blew His Retirement
One guy blew his entire retirement fund and had to go back to work. He was a retired post master and went back to work as a delivery driver.
#28 Army Gambler
My story comes from my time in the army. Slot machines are everywhere in Germany. The small post I was on had a few slot machines in a back room of the bowling alley. One of our NCOs would go every payday and spent his entire paycheck over lunch. We would know if he won or not by the mood he was in after lunch. When he won, he would tell us about winning $600 after dropping $1500 into the machine.
#29 Disgusting Behavior
Former poker dealer at a casino. An older gentleman started to have a heart attack at the table. I called the floor person for assistance with the call button. Paramedics were rushed in within minutes. I was instructed to keep the game rolling by the floor person as he whispered in my ear. Two hands were dealt and played, and a player at the table requested the heart attack guy get moved somewhere else as it was disrupting the game. Another player asked to have his chips picked up and called for the “open seat” because “we have a waitlist." I was disgusted.
#30 It's All Gone
I was a dealer at a charity poker room in a bowling alley. One guy was pretty tipsy and was so bad at poker. He kept losing the max buy-in ($300) and would go straight to the ATM and rebuy. With every rebuy, the desperation became greater and greater. I just wanted to tell him to pack it up before he lost more, but that would have probably cost me my job. Eventually, I think he must have emptied his bank account. I had never seen someone lose so much money in one night.
#31 What A Guy
I know of a guy who sold his car to a loan shark after losing $80,000 in two days. He even went to the DMV and transferred the title. Then, when he got out of his fog, he used his spare key and found the car. He took it. He was pulled over for driving a stolen vehicle. Not sure how his court case went.
#32 Not Worth the Winnings
I wasn't a casino employee, but I was an EMT in a certain beach town on the East Coast that could be described as bargain bin Vegas. One day, we had a call for a woman in her 70s sitting at the slots experiencing chest pain around 2 a.m. She refused treatment despite being in bad shape. We pleaded and begged, and even had the on-call cardiologist talk to her on the phone, but she was "on a streak" and wouldn't hear it. An hour later, we were back doing CPR. She passed right there in front of the same slot machine, with a receipt for $7 in winnings.
#33 Taken Advantage of By the Casino
There were these two middle-aged Greek ladies who were ALWAYS on the slot machines. Every day when I started my shift they were they and they were there when I finished 10 hours later. They were still there in the same clothes the next day oftentimes. They were SUPER nice and always polite to the staff. One day, they hit the jackpot and won big—$45,000. Everyone was overjoyed for them, except the managers obviously. Well, the managers then gave them free meals at the restaurant and an open bar tab until every single penny of that money was clawed back into the casino.
#34 Cold Hearted
I did casino security for three years before I became a law enforcement officer. We had a Code M (medical) early one morning, around 4 or 5 a.m. An old guy in his 80s passed out and fell out of his chair. His wife was sitting next to him. I was the first to get to him and I did a quick assessment. I found that he didn’t have a pulse so I immediately started CPR. The old lady looked over and said, “Oh, he does this all the time. Don’t worry about him.”
Between chest compressions, I told her he wasn’t breathing and she just kept playing her slot machine. She didn’t miss a spin, even when the paramedics took him away. I saw her again the next night and asked how he was doing. With the straightest face ever, she said, “Oh, he never woke up. I’m sure he’s in a freezer by now,” and went right back to the same machine she was playing the night before.
#35 Losing Twice
I worked in a casino for about seven years and the one that has always stuck with me was when a kid came with his friends and lost $100 playing blackjack. Then, he was sitting there looking dejected and watching his friends win. He left and came back with another $100. I could tell from the way he was acting that he probably didn't have the original $100 to lose, so he definitely couldn't afford to lose another $100. I asked if he was sure he wanted to play. He nodded his head and solemnly said yes. Unfortunately, he lost that money too.
#36 Don't They Have Daycare?
I don't work in a casino but I live near Atlantic City. Seeing unattended children playing near the entrance to the casino floor where children aren't allowed is one of the saddest things I've seen. Like, you brought your kids to a casino where kids aren't allowed...and just...left them in a hallway.
#37 Emergency Over a $10 Pan
A grandmother, mother, and daughter headed to the casino by car from two hours away. The mother had a postcard to get a free cast iron pan for showing up. The daughter was more than eight months pregnant. One hour away from the casino, the daughter started to have labor pains. The mother wouldn't stop to take her to the hospital—she had to have that $10 pan. They arrived at the casino an hour before the promotion was going to start. The mother yelled and yelled trying to get her pan, but the workers for the promo hadn't arrived yet. The daughter ended up having to be transported by ambulance to the hospital. All over a $10 pan.
#38 Adult Diapers
My mom works as a dealer at a casino and has told me multiple stories of grown men wearing adult diapers at the table so they don’t have to leave to use the restroom.
#39 A Bad Transition
In general, people who come to the casino for the first time are super nice and friendly. They don't care about winning or losing much, they just came to have fun. They usually come back a few more times, then after a few years, they're regulars that don't smile anymore. They don't laugh, they don't count their wins (just their losses), and they act like gambling is their job. I've seen more than one person have this happen to them.
#40 Go Home, Grandma
We had to evacuate and close down for the rest of the day due to a burst pipe, which caused no running water. When I walked outside, there was an elderly lady throwing a legit tantrum in the parking lot. She was on the ground kicking and screaming. Her screams sounded like something you'd expect from someone who'd just lost a family member, not someone who had to leave the casino for a few hours. I left, but some of the security who were dealing with her told me later on that she was too upset to drive home and they had to call a family member to pick her up.
#41 At Least The Employees Are Nice
I'm a former valet at a casino. The amount of daily regulars who drove barely functioning vehicles full of trash, roaches, and rats who would actually valet their car and go gamble away any money they had to their name was honestly depressing. The saddest thing I remember was a 90-year-old lady who drove a '91 corolla. When we got in her car, we realized that she had no power steering fluid at all and her steering wheel would barely turn. I have no earthly idea how her frail arms could turn it. We went and bought her some before she left that evening.
#42 No Gifts for Christmas
It's been about 15 years, but I worked in a casino for about four years. The one memory that stands out to me was a woman who came from the country to the "big" city to get Christmas gifts for the whole family, including young kids who still believed in Santa Clause. She spent all of the Christmas money at the casino before going to the mall.
#43 A Downward Spiral
We used to have a woman who would be on the blackjack tables for five days and nights straight. Her husband would call and tell her that her kids wanted her to come home. Her boss actually came to the casino to try and get her to leave. She was missing work. I don’t know what happened to her, but she’s probably ruined her life.
#44 Lost It All
During my eight-hour shift, a gentleman won $15,000 on a slot machine. I punched out at the end of my shift and had the next two days off. I returned to work after my weekend to find the man still sitting at the same slot machine. He had been there for more than two days losing $15,000.
#45 Not a Joyous Christmas
I worked at a casino as a dealer through college. A lot of incidents were pretty sad, especially with regulars that you liked. One regular would tell me about his middle school-age kids, and then I would realize the next week or so later that he was missing their school plays and recitals because he was at the tables. I remember working an overnight one Christmas Eve and begging him to go home when 7 a.m. rolled around because his kids would be up and opening presents.