A day in a Las Vegas casino can be strange. You’ll meet all kinds of people from all over the world. In the city of sin, many inhibitions can go out the door. Common sense may also go out the door. Catching Vegas fever is usually a good thing. However catching an actual fever in Vegas isn’t good.
When visiting Las Vegas you’re usually here “for a good time and not a long time.” Sometimes, good habits are thrown to the side in order to have a better time. Someone might normally spend 30 seconds washing hands thoroughly after using the restroom but there’s a strong desire to get back to the action on the casino floor when in Las Vegas. That 30 seconds may be the difference of hitting the random number generator of the slot machine at the right time to hit a jackpot. It could mean a couple fewer wins at the tables. Whatever the game, nobody wants to miss out.
While seeking those good times and not washing up, you’re also bringing germs back to the table. Those germs and bacteria touch every card, chip, dollar, surface and person nearby. Germs can similarly be passed by sneezing or coughing directly into your hands. Germs are easily passed on with so much happening in a casino.
Shortly after I first started visiting casinos, I became a part-time germaphobe. It’s not possible to control the people around me, but I can do the best time stay as clean as possible. Washing hands thoroughly became a goal. I carried hand sanitizer too in case there wasn’t a need to use the restroom. Keeping germs away is a positive value play for a Vegas vacation.
To this day I keep my hands as clean as possible in the casino and the thought of germs while at the tables and machines has vanished. However, Casinoroom.com recently tested casinos for bacteria germs and it has me thinking about this topic. The report didn’t really surprise me but it reminded me what we’re dealing with.
Casinos have more bacteria than just about everything we come across in our everyday lives. No matter which denomination of casino chip you touch, it’s germier than a toilet seat, toilet handle or bathroom door at home. The research also shows that slot machine handles hold onto just about every germ that is in the air of a casino.
Surprisingly, the slot machine spin button is among the least germy surfaces you’ll come across in the casino. On the other side, slot machine handles are the dirtiest. This is something you might want to keep in mind the next time you play old school reel slot machines. The only time I touch slot machine handles today is when I’m on a bad streak and need to change my luck.
The casino chip germ counts aren’t much of a surprise. Since most minimum wagers are in denominations of $5 ($5, $10, $15 minimum wagers are normal) those are the chips used the most in a casino. Not coincidentally, they have the most germs. Meanwhile, the highest denomination of chip surveyed had the least. I’d imagine the number decreases as you reach $100 and $500 chips.
The most surprising information found in this study is which casinos have the highest bacteria counts. The study used TripAdvisor ratings as a guide to choosing a low-rated, mid-rated, and high-rated casino to perform their germ testing.
Surprisingly, the highest-rated casino tested contained the most bacteria. The casino tested had over 20 times more than the mid-rated casino and more than double the low-rated casino. The study doesn’t point to poor upkeep, but rather high traffic as the culprit with the high-rated casino. The more people visiting a casino the more germs they bring into the property.
Studies about cleanliness in casinos freak me out for a minute. I remember the time when a friend walked into a casino without gambling and left after 10 minutes with pinkeye. It didn’t ruin the trip, but it certainly didn’t help.
This study and that story are good reminders to wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth between spins on the slots, and steer clear of people who appear sick. The worst time in Las Vegas are when you’re sick.
Image Credit:Casino Room/
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.
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