Music plays an essential role in gaming.
We all know how powerful music can be. We use it ourselves to stimulate and manipulate our emotions, be it an upbeat tune to get us in the party spirit, or the catharsis that comes with listening to sad songs. Music is used in a multitude of environments to create the desired ambience and influence people’s mood. Unsurprisingly, one type of venue that puts the power of music to good use is casinos.
Music at live casinos
Land-based casino establishments, and their online equivalent live dealer casinos, know the importance of music as part of the experience. The type of music that you might find at a casino has changed a lot over the years, from live classical and jazz to faster electronic beats in modern venues. The purpose of this kind of music is to create an atmosphere that encourages people to stay and play for longer.
Beyond creating a welcoming environment, there is evidence that music can influence gambling behaviour in patrons. Tunes with a faster tempo encourage more frequent betting, but this comes with increased recklessness. For tourist-trap casinos and games arcades, this fast and reckless betting may be encouraged, as these establishments see a high volume of one-off visitors.
This type of betting, however, is not actually what many casinos want. Depending on the target demographic, it can be more beneficial to encourage players to stay for a long time and leave feeling good enough to visit again. Mid-tempo music is better for concentration and making more prudent bets. Players who bet more carefully will tend to have a more positive experience and are more likely to return.
Online live casinos make judicious use of ambient music that is repetitive and soothing but not too slow. Some tables feature tunes that are more up-tempo, which is great for games that are generally faster paced. Some live tables may also incorporate aspects of music that are used in virtual RNG games.
Music in online casino games
At an online casino, music is delivered differently. Rather than a general background theme, music is tailored specifically to each game. This has allowed games developers to utilize music and sounds in a much more targeted fashion, and the results go further than just a simple soundtrack.
The music that goes with a particular slot game has multiple functions. The first is to help create the identity of the slot, and help the player to connect with the theme of the game. Hence a Halloween-themed slot will try to impart a spooky aural experience to go with the graphics. The right music is essential to the immersive nature of these games – incongruity between what a player sees and hears will pull them out of the experience.
Music and sounds also act as signposts, alerting players to discrete parts of the game. Thus, a bonus round or special symbol combination will be marked by a change in the music, which helps players to identify what is happening. Returning players, whether consciously or otherwise, use the music as a guide to the action.
Interspersed with the music there are other sound effects, and these have been shown to have a profound influence on players. Bright, ascending sounds in a major key are often used with a win, and studies show that this stimulates the reward centres of the brain. In conjunction with the screen graphics, this intensifies the rush associated with a win and encourages further play. It may even have an effect on the player’s perception of exactly how much they are winning or losing.
Do casino managers use music to hypnotize patrons?
One prevailing theory on casino music used to be that managers at land casinos used hypnotic, repetitive music on a loop to induce a ‘trance-like state’ in gamblers. This theory was challenged if not wholly disproved by a study that surveyed UK casino managers about how and why they chose the music for their establishments. The reporting managers made their choices instinctively for the most part, with the end goal of creating a comfortable and welcoming environment for their customers.
Music is also used to demarcate different areas of the building, with distinct contrast between the gaming floors, bar areas and dining spaces. Volume and tempo are also adjusted throughout the day, with livelier tunes played in the evening, and louder music when the floors are busy. The majority of tunes played are from the commercial charts, as this adds familiarity for most patrons.
Although it was a small-scale study, the research suggests that casino managers may not be deliberately and directly using music to manipulate the behaviour of their customers. Rather, they recognize the importance of the aural experience in creating an environment that is conducive to gambling. The players themselves may be less aware, but one thing is certain – they would notice if it were ever to stop.
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