I can still remember a time when a person could leave the house empty-handed without feeling naked. No cell phone, no netbook, no worries. How did we get to the place where we can’t seem to exist without constant connectivity? We talk and text while we drive, while we’re in line at the grocery store, even in the library. Hey, it was an emergency. My fantasy football lineup was due in ten minutes.
These are obvious places, where we know we should keep our cell phones holstered, and with obvious consequences resulting from our ignorance. Other instances may or may not be so apparent to the average cell phone user. Casinos, for instance, ban cell phones at their tables, and some of their reasons may surprise you:
- Card Counting – It’s possible for a cell phone user to use a mobile device to keep a count of cards at a table, as in the case of an iPhone app designed for just that purpose. This is not a welcome practice in a gambling establishment, in case you were wondering. So you may want to hang that sucker up before you have to deal with Robert DeNiro and his crew in the back of the house. Do we make ourselves clear?
- Teamwork – On the off chance that you may be using your mobile device to invite a friend over to assist in your gambling efforts, it is once again advisable to stay off the phone. The house would not take kindly to your enlisting bettors on your behalf.
- Excuse Yourself – Though casinos will allow you to take phone calls so long as you step away from the table, this can also be used as a ruse to step away from an unfavorable situation at the table. In other words, players have used the excuse of a phony incoming call to avoid dealing with a bad hand.
- Interference – In rare instances, radio frequencies have been known to affect the operation of some casino equipment such as slot machines. Though not as common or as likely as in years past, it is still regarded by some as a risk to operate two-way radios or mobile phones in close proximity to them.
- Sports Book – When you are in the area of the Sports Book, it is also requested that you refrain from cell phone use. This is to discourage messenger betting. It is also in part because gamblers have used their access to the gambling lines at various other sports book to play the betting lines in their favor, a tactic called “middling”.
- Distraction – Regardless of how legitimate your calls may be, their distraction to other players can create problems. Remember, there is usually a lot of money at stake at these tables, and no one likes to be distracted when they are staking large amounts of dough on their ability to concentrate and compete.
- Transmitting Betting Info Across State Lines – This is one of the rationales behind cell bans that actually led to the ban being lifted several years ago, as it is now possible to accomplish the same thing online. That, plus the fact that many players are using the net to do their gambling anyway, resulted in a temporary lift of the ban at sports books.
- Focus – Casinos are designed to serve one purpose: to keep players playing. Everything they do, right down to the floor plan, is intended to keep the gamblers at the tables gambling. So if you are making or taking phone calls, you may be drawn away from the table, and potentially out of the building. This is not an explanation you are likely to get from the management for their restrictions, but it’s certainly a reason that they frown on cell phone use.
- Camera Phones – Another activity that casino managers discourage is picture taking on the gaming floors. It’s unclear what they are attempting to safeguard from public view, since their casinos are open to the public in the first place, but photography bans exist nonetheless. It may be that they are concerned with the potential for the texting of photos between guests as a cheat method.
- Paranoia – Ultimately, it boils down to fear. Specifically, a fear of the house losing its long-standing edge over the betting public. With all the technological capabilities of today’s mobile devices, and the never-ending plethora of available apps for them, casino owners are understandably jittery at the very sight of swarming hordes of gamblers armed with weaponry that could conceivably one day tip the balance of power at the gaming tables.