Influence of Strategic Design on Behavior: Casinos

This is a post from the Spring 2009 blog discussing how casino environments are designed to affect a person’s actions. The author points out that the goal of specific casino designs is to keep people inside for as long as possible. This post talks in depth about ways these attractions attempt to achieve this goal.

It all starts with the floor plan, which is typically designed to force a person to walk through or near slot machines and table games. The purpose of this is to try and catch an individual’s attention with sounds and to also make them aware of others who are winning money. A person is more likely to sit down and gamble with their own money if they see that this is going on. Since casino managers can control how much money a slot machine will pay out, they will make sure that the machines returning the most money are the ones that are most visible. In addition, casinos usually place slot machines near card tables in order to keep friends who might want to play different games near each other.

It is also interesting to note that clocks and natural light are rarely, if ever, seen in the playing area of a typical casino. Obviously, the goal of this method is to make people lose track of time and continue to gamble more than they probably should. Some casinos even go as far as creating artificial daylight to make people feel like they have not been inside as long as they actually have. These strategies definitely have been effective in the past and continue to be used in newer buildings today.

This post also touches on how casinos strategically play soothing music with few interruptions to keep people from being distracted and potentially leaving altogether. Having been to Las Vegas before, and as recently as winter break, I found this article extremely entertaining. I was aware of almost all of the things casinos try to do to manipulate people before my trip a few weeks ago. However, that did not stop me from gambling for a good portion of my stay. All of these factors, including the free drinks, probably affected my judgment and ended up making the casinos a little bit more money.

There have been multiple casinos opened in Las Vegas since this post last April and I would interested to see if there are any new methods being used by these places to keep people preoccupied. I also think it would be important to see if the economic downturn has affected casinos, especially in places like Las Vegas.


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