The Psychology of Casino Design – The Tricks That Make You Spend More and More
The casino business has been evolving for many decades, and ever since the early days, casino owners and managers have been trying to figure out ways to maximize their profits.
To make more money from their customers, casinos need them to stay inside as long as possible and feel comfortable and happy while throwing their money away.
While this sounds hard to achieve since people generally tend to avoid things that can hurt them, that's not always the case.
Over the years, casinos have mastered the art of keeping their customers inside the facility and spending their hard-earned money at the tables or slots without complaining too much.
This article will cover two main schools of casino design, so you can see how they are tricking players into playing more often in most major casinos in different parts of the world.
Bill Friedman’s Classic Casino Design
In the year 2000, Bill Friedman published his book titled Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition, which came as a result of more than two decades of research and actual work in the casino industry.
Friedman was one of the first people to take casino design so seriously, and he dedicated many years of his life to changing the casinos in which he worked to optimize their returns.
Friedman's approach to casino design played to human tendencies to feel comfortable in small intimate spaces and the idea of disorienting customers to keep them inside the casinos and detached from the outside world.
While these ideas have been deemed obsolete by some who came after him, Bill's casino design seems to work quite well, and some casinos around the world still use this concept with great success.
Basic Casino Design
On the very basic level, Friedman's idea of designing a casino revolves around creating a comfortable and intimate atmosphere for the guests.
His casinos are split into small rooms with low ceilings, each offering its own games and often a different atmosphere to the other rooms in the same casino.
For Bill, slots are the focus of the casino, and they should be the number one decoration of every room within the facility.
He does not believe that additional decorations should be used because players should focus on the games, the jackpots, and their winning opportunities.
This way, the player will spend most of his time gambling, with very few other activities available and no desire to step away from the machines.
When the time does come to use the restroom or leave the casino, Friedman suggests making this as difficult as possible.
The corridors in his casinos are narrow, with all views blocked by gaming machines. Even a simple task like finding the exit or the restroom should be made difficult for the players.
The idea, of course, is that on your way to leaving the casino, one should change his mind by yet another opportunity to gamble and possibly win back his losses in a different game.
This type of design works exceptionally well for casinos whose main focus is slot machines. By keeping them tightly packed and offering many options, players are greatly encouraged to keep on gambling at all times.
Windows and Clocks Not Required
Perhaps you have not noticed, but many casinos don't have any windows looking outside or clocks on the walls to tell you the time.
The clocks thing may seem like an outdated concept with most people carrying watches and mobile phones, but it used to be relevant back in the day in the world's oldest casinos.
Even today, some casinos use these techniques to keep you completely detached from the outside world. If there is no window to see out into the street, staying inside and gambling may seem like a more sane thing to do.
After all, how weird would it be to see people walking outside and going about their days while you are sitting at a slot machine and losing your hard-earned dollars?
If you don't know the time, you may also be inclined to stay inside more even if you have places to be.
Gambling as the Main Focus
In a casino designed in accordance with Friedman's ideas, gambling will be available from the moment you set foot through the door. As you make your way inside, finding the way back to the exit may prove to be a chore in itself.
Playing machines and tables are set very close to the entrance, with more opportunities opening themselves up as you explore the interior. Casino games are the one and only focus of the casino, giving players as much chance to gamble as possible.
Roger Thomas’ Casino Playground
Roger Thomas is known as the man who revolutionized Las Vegas casinos. In his career, he used an approach that's very different from Friedman's and has had great success with this new model.
His approach is called the casino playground approach, and instead of the small and closed-off rooms, Thomas encourages open spaces, high ceilings, and plenty of space for people to breathe in.
If you have ever been inside a Las Vegas casino in recent years, you probably know exactly what he is talking about.
The opulence and the luxury of these casinos will fascinate you from the moment you set your foot through the front door, making you feel like you are a part of something grand.
All of it, of course, is designed to keep you inside and gamble as much of your money as possible there before you finally decide to leave.
A Visually Stimulating Casino
While the classic casino design focuses on gaming machines as the main decoration for the rooms, a playground casino will feature a variety of visual elements in combination with the casino devices.
One thing that does not change is the lack of any windows or clocks on the walls.
The walls, however, are often covered in various wallpapers, while the tacky carpets are the stuff of legends in the Las Vegas casinos.
The color patterns used by playground casinos apparently have a psychological connection to the feeling of good fortune, but their tacky designs also make it easier to cover up the stains caused by the many spilling accidents customers may experience.
Inside a casino, you will always feel like it is nighttime, with the red, yellow, and brown colors creating the illusion of a night in the town and a luxurious setting.
Let’s Add Some More Stimuli
Casinos designed following this new approach use a number of other stimuli in addition to the visual ones to give their customers extra incentives to gamble.
Apparently, some smells are likely to relax a person and make them feel detached from the feeling of loss, which is why the best casinos pump such smells through the ventilation systems.
Music can also relax people, while fast and exciting music can actually propagate impulsive behaviors and decisions.
Some casinos use classic rock music to entice their players to take bold and daring moves at the tables at peak times while using milder music at other hours.
In either case, everything you see, hear, and smell in a playground casino is designed to fool you into staying a little longer and playing a little higher than you planned to, which is how they maximize their profits and keep you coming back for more.
Stay Smart the Next Time You Visit a Casino
Casinos can be incredibly fun places to visit, especially the world's most unusual casinos, and gambling is definitely very high on the list of adult entertainment.
That said, the ultimate goal of the casino owners is to make players come back as often as possible, which is why you should be very careful in how you approach the whole experience.
The next time you go to a casino, make sure to limit your alcohol intake, stay aware of what the casinos are doing to get more of your money, and limit the amount of cash you bring with you.
Even if you don't want to gamble away your savings, having them on you when you visit a casino is a risky proposition.
If you remember what to look out for and can keep a cool head among all the stimuli, then you might just have a great time in a casino without it costing you more than you can afford.