Vegas Myths Re-Shattered: Casinos Pump Extra Oxygen


Published on: December 22, 2023 at 08:03 pm.

Last updated on: December 22, 2023 at 10:41 h.

Editor’s note: “Vegas Myths Busted” posts new entries every Monday, with a bonus Flashback Friday release. Today’s post in our ongoing series originally ran on July 29, 2022.

One of the most enduring myths in Vegas is that casinos pump oxygen into the casino floors to keep players alert and increase playing time. Could this be true or partly based on the truth? If not, how did it start?

It is a persistent myth in Las Vegas that casinos pump oxygen into their floors to keep players alert and playing.
A group of oxygen tanks above. It is a persistent myth in Las Vegas that casinos pump oxygen into their floors to keep players alert and playing. (Image: American Society for Healthcare Engineering)

“The rumors about casinos pumping oxygen are not true,” said Tony Cabot, a distinguished fellow in gaming law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

There are several reasons for this.

First, a typical Las Vegas casino contains 1 million cubic liters of air. To raise the oxygen level, just one percent would use more than 40,000 cubic meters of oxygen gas per day, an incredible cost, according to Parker & Sons Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning in Arizona.

More importantly, adding more oxygen would create a fire risk, because air with a higher 21% normal oxygen content would act as an accelerant, making any open flames burn hotter, faster and at lower temperatures. Oxygen itself is not flammable.

This would violate all of the casino’s fire insurance policies, and if a fire occurred, the investigation would result in a public relations nightmare.

“Casinos do a number of things to encourage people to keep playing,” Cabot said. “But pumping oxygen isn’t one of them. It’s just one of those myths about Las Vegas that people like to spread.

An author you can’t refuse

This legend stems from the fertile imagination of Mario Puzo, the late author of “The Godfather.”

In Puzo’s 1978 novel Fools Die, casino owner Alfred Groenevelt made a regular 2 a.m. call to his building engineer to “pump pure oxygen through the casino’s air conditioning system to keep gamblers from falling asleep.”

In the 45 years since the book’s publication, conspiracy theorists have promoted this fiction as fact. Even some legitimate media sources joined in. One 2006 BBC The article constructs the myth as true to show that “such psychological deception would be prohibited in Britain.”

Casino scams Do Uses

Casinos Do Fill the air with objects to entice players to continue playing. These include loud music, pleasant scents, and frigid air conditioning. They also don’t display any clocks on their walls.

You will not see clocks in almost any casino because they will alert customers that it is time to leave, which is not in the casino’s best interest. Cabot said. “For the same reason, very few casinos have windows facing outward, where customers can judge the time of day by the amount of light coming in.”

Regarding whether casinos intentionally make it difficult to find exits, Cabot replied: “Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. But you will notice that the exits do not allow visible light into the space where players are playing.”

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