Professional gaming is a multiple hundred billion dollar industry in the United States. There's many stories of people 'winning big,' but unfortunately even more stories of people experiencing huge loss. These stories from Casino workers are about those people. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I witnessed first hand some tragedy at the casino.
I worked valet at a casino and brought down one of the regulars' truck. He seemed his usual self, handed me 5 and said have a good day. As I'm walking off I hear a clap, kinda sounded like someone dropped something really heavy. Turned around and didn't see anything so oh well....
Went and brought down the next car and realized dude's truck is still there. I pull up next to it and his head is laid back with blood all over the side window. To make matters worse, right about that time his daughter (probably in her early 20s) comes out screaming and falling on the ground because she saw her dad shoot himself. Then the boyfriend or brother, not sure which, came out and was trying to lift her off the ground because she looked like she was about to faint. The whole situation was just so tragic. I can seriously still her screams saying, 'No dad, noooo.' Makes my eyes water just thinking about it.
The casino offered free counseling to us that were there and I talked to someone a couple times. It was hard to take all that in."
"I worked at a casino in FL for a few years and saw a lot of these people. One guy sat at a slot machine for over 24 hours just peeing in his pants. There was so much pee on the floor that the casino eventually called the Seminole Police Department to come get him. I was just outside the doors when they were escorting him out and I heard him ask, 'Why the heck do I have to leave?'
The SPD officer replied, 'Sir, you've urinated in your pants numerous times.'
The guy then yelled out, 'So what! I own these pants! They're my pants to pee in!!!' "
"There was a regular poker player at the casino I used to work at a few years ago. Let’s call him 'Mike.' Mike was one of the sweetest regulars we had. He was always kind, even when he lost badly. Polite, tipped well, friendly with everyone...just a dream customer.
One afternoon he was sitting in the poker game and a lady who none of us had ever seen before comes up behind him and SMACKS him across the back of his head. She starts screaming at him, 'You lost our houses!!! What are you doing?!? You’ve lost EVERYTHING AND YOU’RE STILL HERE!!!'
The whole casino has frozen at this point and everyone is staring. Mike grabs a rack from under the table, puts his chips in it, and heads to the cage without saying a word or making eye contact with anyone. As Mike is cashing out, the lady (who we can safely assume is his wife) starts yelling at EVERYONE IN THE CASINO.
'YOU’RE ALL SICK!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!! YOU SICK PEOPLE ALL NEED HELP!!!'
Eventually they left, Mike with eyes staring at the ground and his wife right behind, yelling the whole way.
That was 3 years ago. The man played every day for over a decade. We never saw him again."
"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 that her husband killed himself. She got a life insurance settlement or some sort of fund upon his death and blew it all gambling within a month. Her dad died not long after and left her an inheritance and she lost all that within two months. No idea what ever happened to her but she was absolutely insane."
"My job had me dealing directly with the (extremely) high level players behind the scenes - I wasn't a dealer.
One guy and his friends came in and lived like Rockstars for a few days; they couldn't have been older than 30. Made all of their money in the early stages of spice/synthetic cannabinol (weed). Once they lost all of their money, they couldn't afford the helicopter to take them to the airport, which was a 15 minute drive with traffic. They absolutely lost their minds that they had to go back in an Escalade. I've never seen someone so entitled.
Another young player hit it big. Once. I think he made 6-700k in a lucky night? For some reason, I gave him my phone number. On a random off-day, he calls me asking if I can wire him $200 so he can 'double it,' poor guy was broke by my next shift. Ended up visiting him waaaaay later and the dude lived in probably the worst part of Houston I've ever seen, did absolutely nothing productive with the money.
We had one extremely wealthy player who was always hit or miss, and would only come in every year or two. His previous trip he made around $2 million, and literally destroyed a limo on his way to the airport - it spent 6 months getting the interior replaced. Came again and lost a hair over $4 million, and was cool as a cucumber. I'll never understand it.
The worst were people I considered friends. Everyone gets down on their luck, so I would try and pull strings to make their stay at least not so bad. Free tickets to sold out shows, calling in favors to club owners to get them some decent access, etc. The thing is, they wouldn't take the hint to slow down, or just stop gambling away the money they didn't have. They've all lost the spark to who they once were. Every. Single. One. I still occasionally see them online flaunting their 'VIP' access that they blatantly used someone else's account to get, and it's just depressing. It seems so surreal to see someone living an absolutely fabricated life when you know it's 100% fake.
Upside, met tons of celebrities - some cool, some not. Got paid super well for my age, and had zero oversight, which made for some great stories.
The complementaries. HOLY COW THE COMPS. People would spend THOUSANDS of dollars solely to get an 'upgraded' players card. I kid you not. I think we had 5 levels, with the first level being Red. The next tier was useless, and would require $10k in play. The third level was when you actually got any 'benefits,' like a shopping and food discount of 10%, and required $75k in play. The fourth level was what everyone aimed for, as it gave you access to the VIP lounge and free snacks/drinks. How much did this cost? $250,000. Yes, a quarter of a million dollars. The highest level was a black card, required around $875,000 in play, and only the legitimately wealthy had these - and they rightfully got free rein of the casino. The people in levels 1-3 were just your regular problematic gamblers with a true hatred for retirement, literally emptying their accounts for a shiny piece of plastic and mid-tier seats at a 3 Doors Down concert.
The kicker, the card would reset every year. If you didn't gamble enough to meet the criteria every 12 months, you lost your card. It's one of the few things that absolutely separated the 'real' rich from the 'fake' rich. The real rich rarely had players cards or gave a care about discounts or points - they knew what they were worth, and the casino would provide accordingly or they would bring their (literal) millions to another casino with zero hesitation. It was a very enlightening few years for me."
"I have two stories, bear with me. It was my third day dealing. I was fresh out of dealer school (I've been in industry 10 years now), but anyways, I get put on a game called pai-gow tiles. 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 4's beats the pair of 10's. Why? Eff you, that's why.
Anyways, third day dealing, on a 25 minute game. Guy is betting 50 to 150 consistently for 3 hours. He builds it up to about 3k. (Started with about $500). He slides it all on one hand. We wish him good luck. He sets his hand, excited showing the table his MONSTER HAND. I, the dealer, pulled what's called ji-goon/teen bo. It is LITERALLY unbeatable. It is the God hand. It is pair of Aces, pair of kings. His hand was equal to pair of queens, pair of jacks. (For you dealers, he had dai bo/gore bo). A 99.9% winner in every other instance.
He slams the table, chips fly everywhere, and he begins to self-induce vomit. He succeeds. Splatters everywhere. Security is on him within seconds. Banned for life, whole pit closes due to biohazard. He did not leave a tip.
My second story comes after I'd been dealing for about 9 years. I was dealing pai gow poker (not tiles like above). Full table. This game involves a lot of pushes which is why I enjoy playing. $200 bucks at 10-20 a hand can have you playing for 2 hours no problem due to so many pushes. The reason to play this game is the bonus bet. Catching 4 of a kind, straight flushes, royal flushes, pay HUGE! Even if you lose the hand and have a bonus, the bonus pays.
Now the twist is if you bet $5 or more, you get envy bonus which means if anyone else at the table hits a monster bonus, you get paid some money too! 5 players playing, 4 play bonus and have envy active. The one player not playing bonus bets his last $15, (no money for bet and the bonus) and wakes up with the best hand possible. 7 card straight flush, no joker. (Joker is a wild card used to make straights, flushes or act as a 5th Ace.) He shows the table, everyone cheers and is excited because their $5 bet wins them each $5,000. If the man had played it, his bonus would have paid 8,000 to 1. $5 nets him $40k, but he didn't play it.
So he shows the table, 'Look, I didn't play the bonus! I am going to win nothing while you all win $5,000 each through envy! Will each of you throw me $1000, so we all walk away with $4,000 each?' They start screaming at him shouting no, eff you, how dare you ask us that, we earned this! Etc etc. He kind of frowns, and lets out a small sigh... Mucks the hand to the dealer.
THE TABLE LOSES IT!!!! 'NOOO!!! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING!? TAKE IT BACK!!! WE'LL SPLIT! WE'LL GIVE YOU THE THOUSAND!!!'
I, the dealer, inside am like, 'Heck yeah bro! Those greedy reprobates can eat it! They all get 5k each off your hand while you win nothing??' They call managers over demanding they be paid because he had the bonus hand. But until it is legally set by the player and the dealer reveals it to the camera, the patron may fold their hand freely and forfeit their bet. He walked away, shouting back, 'Hey we all could have had $4,000 each but you wanted to be greedy!' It was fantastic. So I guess it's sad for those greedy people."
"I did casino security for 3 years before I became a police officer. Had a Code M (medical emergency) early early one morning, around 4 or 5am. Old guy in his 80’s passed out and fell out of his chair, his wife was sitting next to him. I was the first to get to him, did a quick assessment and found he didn’t have a pulse, 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."
"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. Server went up to him and the kid asked, 'How do I tell my parents I just lost my college money?' I'm sure there were more but that's the main one I remember.
Also if you go to casinos, please don't treat the employees like trash because you messed up and lost all your money. It's not our fault you don't have any self control. I'm happy I don't work there anymore. It was honestly the lowest point in my life, but there's several stories here.
This college aged couple came in and were there for awhile. The girl goes into the bathroom and the guy waits outside. After about 15 minutes he asks a passing lady to check on her because she hasn't answered his text. Lady comes back out and grabs a security guard. The girl had sliced her wrists while in the bathroom with her boyfriend waiting maybe 15ft away. Luckily I was on my way out that night so I wasn't around for the rest of it. It was the bathroom right by the outlet I was working in.
It was a Native (no real significance outside the smoking in the building) casino/hotel and there's an entryway that cuts the two off from each other so you don't get the casino noises in the hotel and the banquet halls which are right there don't have to deal with the smoky smell. On the hotel side of this entry way, there was a set of bathrooms. I was working at the coffee shop which is on the casino side is the entry way. All the sudden this guy comes booking it out into the casino section with another guy chasing him, tackling him to the ground and proceeding to beat the tar out of guy number 1. Security arrived and broke up the fight and was focusing on guy 2 figuring he was the aggressor while guy 1 booked it. Come to find out guy 2 walked into the bathroom and walked in on guy 1 groping a young boy and was beating the evil out monster. The abuser took off out of the casino and I never heard if he was caught. Guy 2 I don't believe was ever charged with anything but I'm not positive. I did not see him walked off in handcuffs for what it matters.
Finally; one of the servers in the diner was working on her birthday. Her mom and her sister got a hotel room and were coming up to visit for her birthday. Her dad was out of town for work and wouldn't be able to make it. When she went on break her mom and sister were in the restaurant, and she got permission from the supervisor to go over to the hotel side up to their room to have birthday cake and have a little extra time on her break. They get up to the room and turns out her dad was able to get away from work and they wanted to surprise her. They walk in and her dad is on the ground not moving. He had a heart attack while waiting for everyone to get back to surprise his daughter. He ended up passing away. Needless to say management told her she was done for the day and got the rest of her week covered while all the funeral arrangements and such were made and since she was newer, they made sure to go over the bereavement leave policy."
"We had to evacuate and close down for the rest of the day due to a burst pipe causing 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 she was too upset to drive home and they had to call a family member to pick her up.
I've seen some really messed up stuff, but this was definitely the most messed up."
"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 I remember was a 90+ year old lady who drove a 91 Corolla and when we got in her car we realized 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."
"About 15 years ago. I was a bar manager/bartender at a casino. I had a lot of regulars. I got to the point that I knew what drink people wanted and how often they would want one, and what they would switch to based on wins or losses. I had a regular family that gambled together. A father, mother and daughter (who was about my age). After a year or two of seeing them come in at least once sometimes twice a week, we got to know each other pretty well. The parents would always try to set me up with the daughter, she wasn't my type and I was in a relationship at the time so I always let them down easy. Anyway, it came to pass that the father got diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mother and daughter came in way more often, almost everyday, complaining of the high medical bills every chance they got, how the father was suffering so much, etc. I felt so bad for the father. Knowing he was dying of cancer and instead of having family there for him. They were at the casino spending money that may or not have been needed on medical bills and end of life care. Regardless of the money, seeing them at the casino while he suffered alone was a lot to deal with. I wish I could have said something, but I needed my job more than moral high ground.
After he passed away, the mother and daughter were in the next day. I brought their drinks. I also brought his favorite drink, a white Russian. The mother cried. She stopped coming in as much for a little while. I don't feel like it was a spiteful act. But I think it did put things into perspective for them. Probably too little too late. I was invited to the funeral but unfortunately had to work. They were way better tippers when the father was alive. And after he died, the mother would order as many screwdrivers as I was legally allowed to give her (I can't remember if it was one an hour or every other hour). So she and her daughter started really having a crippling gambling addiction as well as possibly developing drinking addiction. I hope they are better now. They were excellent, nice caring people, who had an addiction.
I dislike gambling to this day. I may have been in a casino less than five times in the last ten years, mostly to eat at the buffets, which are amazing at some places and absolute garbage at others, and to occasionally play table games (actual cards instead of machines)."
"One of my players killed his girlfriend and then himself while staying with us during a local 'spring break' event.
He called me about an hour before it happened and I ghosted the call because I was off the clock.
The next evening after the call, VIP called me about his room being dirty still and it being way past checkout so I called his phone and it went straight to voicemail. I checked the casino and he hadn't played in hours. I decided to Google his name to see if he got into trouble with the law and was in jail. I about collapsed when I saw the article.
He went to a neighboring state to visit his girlfriend and he ended up kidnapping her and shot her on the way back and then he shot himself.
I feel bad sometimes for not answering, thinking I could have prevented it from happening or if I had answered, maybe I would have heard it all go down."
"This isn't exactly a casino story, however in North Carolina gambling hasn't always been legal. A few years ago I was helping manage a local grocery store and we had a regular. She was always pleasant, always got her things and left quickly; until the scratch off dispensing machine was installed. Within less than a month, she went from chipper old blonde lady to the strange wrinkled witch at the scratch off machine. She'd spend her entire month's social security within a few minutes, scurry to the next store to test her luck and come back to me. It was an every day thing that came out of nowhere. She spent her brother's 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."
"The most horrible thing I remember hearing about a girl, in the Army, stationed in GA. She had a newish baby, and would buckle baby in the car seat and drive across the bridge to SC to gamble. It gets hot as the sun, and this woman one day went to the casino, parked her car on the far side of the parking lot, just past or behind a dumpster. Other patrons remember her getting up occasionally and looking out the door but being there's pretty much the whole entire day. That evening when she drove back on base she looked in the backseat and noticed that the baby was clearly in distress. Baby had in fact been dead for some hours was in very bad shape- eyes bulging, weird bubbles coming out of its mouth......just completely awful. She left her infant in the car seat to bake to death in the sun, while she gambled her military pay away."