Oxygen City: Are casinos using oxygen to keep you awake?

One of the most overheard urban legends is that casinos pump pure oxygen into their casinos to keep players awake, refreshed, and sparkly clean. Well minus the sparkly clean part, many casino players do think that somewhere within the recesses of a casino, there’s a man sitting behind a huge tank of pure O2 laughing maniacally as he floods the casino with the stimulating gas.

Well this is true. Sorta.

Many well-known casinos have been known to pump small amounts of ozone into the air, and this is probably where the myth started. Many people know that ozone is in fact oxygen, O3 to be exact, and the very thing that keeps the sun from turning us black and crispy on summer days. The reason though isn’t to keep people awake, but rather to mask the smell of those smoke-filled gaming rooms. Ozone has a pleasant smell, and as a strong oxidizer it may react with some odorous hydrocarbons and help get rid of the stench of the wafting cigar next to you.

There has been no proof that ozone can act as any sort of stimulant, or help you run the 100-yard dash any faster. Well that’s fine for O3, but what about O2? This is just simple common sense. O2 is a highly flammable gas; just ask NASA and picture in your mind the image of space shuttles exploding. This would certainly NOT be in the casino’s best interest.

But the conspiracy nuts do have a point. Casinos invest many dollars each year on providing us with the most stimulating environment. They will have the most friendly carpet and wallpaper to make you feel at home, the most ideal lighting to not highlight that pimple on your face and leave you hiding in your hotel room, and specially angled lights that don’t glare in your eyes.

So next time you’re at the casino, don’t worry about evil men pumping pure oxygen into the casino. But if you see a beautiful model bathed in glowing light to make sure you keep spending money like the playboy you aren’t—be scared. Very scared.