I like the chances! – A visit to the casino at Resorts World

The game of roulette is designed to make money.

Rational people say it’s all about the odds. There are thirty-seven numbers. If you bet on one number it pays you back thirty-five times if it strikes, yet there is only a one in thirty-seven probability that it does. In the grand scheme of things, the casino wins all the time.

So how did four public policy students from four different countries, rational as their analytical training may be, even end up at Resorts World? How did they decide, against all odds, to throw fifty dollars onto a table designed to make them lose?

We all prefer some numbers over others. My cousin has color-graphemic synesthesia, where you see colors and feel temperatures in numbers. Others feel days of the week or months have their own personalities. We all have perfectly irrational reasons for our biases. Most of our favorite numbers lie in the region of 0 to 36, because it’s convenient. Mine are 29 (my family’s shared number), 24 (my birthday), 23 (Michael Jordan), 21 (Blackjack!), and recently 6, which reminds me of the love I have found.

What happens when the number 29 strikes? Not only do I get thirty-five times my money, but I also receive another confirmation that this number I share with my family is sacred. I get another story to tell my mother, another justification of the number inked on my skin. What happens in the rest of the time it doesn’t strike? I forget it as quickly as a goldfish would. As my chips get swept into the hole with all the others, the number remains sacred, not to mention inked to my skin.

It took Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a financial crisis, five years of deliberation and debate, countless CBA’s, and apparently a forced trip to Las Vegas to finally bring the casinos to Singapore.

A rational decision banking on the irrationality of people.

The casino may always win, but we still walked away smiling and laughing. Irrational though it may be, at the end of the day, even if the odds were stacked against us, we had lots of fun!

– by Will Chua Khi Sui (MPP 09/11)

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