Warning: How casinos make sure you get addicted

Warning: How casinos make sure you get addicted

Gambling addiction. Slightly off the radar unless you’re close to someone who’s struggling with it. I came across an interesting article published on Vox.com and would like to share some of the ways casinos intentionally convince you to spend all your money.


Casino’s are not designed in a haphazard manner. The design and engineering is highly research based and very intentional. Natasha Dow Schüll author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, and a cultural anthropologist at MIT shares the details.


  • All of the hallways curve because turning at a 90° angle activates the decision making part of your brain. They want to make sure you stay on autopilot.


  • Slot Machines account for the majority of the profits. The goal is to have people sit there as long as possible. To do this they specifically position of the armrests and have ergonomic seats that are carefully crafted not to cut off circulation.


  • The lighting and sound of the machines is set to make you feel like you’re winning even if you bet $1.00 and lost $.75 of it. You still “won” $.25 and your brain registers pleasure with the jingle and song.


  • Studies show that if sound is bouncing against walls and seems like it’s coming somewhere else, you will get tired more easily. They avoid that.


  • The architects aim to enclose you in a comfy nook so you feel like you have your own private escape.


  • The focus is no longer on volatility and losing and winning, it’s not excitement and thrill. Their goal is to get you to play longer by giving you a smoother ride. You sit back, relax, and glaze over.


  • They’re targeting locals and people who will play over and over again.


  • Credits instead of cash. You put in your $100 bill and forget about it. It’s like you’re not betting real money anymore.


  • It is set up to be as fast as possible activating the addictive part of our brain that thrives on instant rewards.


  • It is illegal for casino’s to change the odds of a game once you’ve already sat down. However, they can watch you play and come over to offer another drink or special if it looks like you’re about to leave or are getting discouraged.
It’s Going To Get Worse


Since the industry is targeting local and repeat customers, they’re looking into tracking each individuals habits through data to refine their way of marketing. Part of that involves mailings and offers, but it will also expand into which type of games you prefer and the sort of volatility that keeps you playing. What is the least interval you need to win at to stay addicted?


Lately there have been some experiments with changing the machine mid-game. If they make sure to maintain the overall payback percentage, they can go in and change the volatility of the game. If a player has been on a bad streak, the machine would recalibrate to “tease” him so he loses his money at a slower, drip pace. They’re allowed to change the games this way if they can frame it as “marketing”.