It’s happened to most of us: you stride into the Luxor, Mohegan Sun or Tropicana brimming with confidence, wallet filled with cash and plans for a bit of enjoyable, sensible gaming and maybe two rounds of drinks. Hours later, you’re not sure what time it is or how much your bank account has shrunk. What has gone wrong? How do casinos trick people who work hard for their money and make reasoned financial decisions on a day-to-day basis to throw hundreds or even thousands of dollars away based on the literal roll of the dice, spin of the wheel or draw of the cards?

The answer is complex and largely psychological. Whether they are blaring music, clinking coins or flashing neon lights, the sounds and visuals of a casino are designed to lure patrons in and distract them from their spending habits. From the crowded tables and poker chairs to the labyrinthine layout and strategically placed gaming sections, casinos are a maze of sound, light and design that can be difficult to navigate without losing track of your money.

It helps that the patrons of a casino are often under the influence, but even so the environment is almost always designed to induce gambling. In addition to free beverages, stage shows and dramatic scenery, most casinos offer comps to those who spend a lot of time or money on games. These perks can include food, drinks, hotel rooms, limousine service and airline tickets.