Have you ever been to a casino and felt unable to leave? Did it feel like you were stuck in some otherworld dimension? You aren’t imagining it and you aren’t going mad. The casinos use psychological nudges to keep you on-site and to keep you spending money.
Knowing these techniques may help you keep your spending down once the casinos reopen in a few weeks.
A stopped clock’s right twice a day, but if there are no clocks, there’s no time; this is exactly how the casino wants you to feel.
Businesses that want to keep you on-site don’t want to make you aware of the passing of time. The more aware you are of time, the more likely you are to leave.
Casinos want to keep you on-site, so they remove the clocks. Compare this with restaurants that want you off-site ASAP, where you’ll find plenty of clocks – especially fast-food restaurants.
When the casinos reopen, one thing that won’t reopen with them is the windows. That’s because there are no windows!
Daylight gives you some inkling of the passage of time. If you go to the casino at 3 pm and it gets dark, you might have spent more time there than you wanted.
Part of the no clock no window thing is keeping you awake. They don’t want you to realise you’re tired, or you might go home.
When do humans feel the most awake?
In the daytime, of course.
They do things to keep your brain awake and stimulated, e.g. fluorescent lighting and crazy décor.
You can do a quick experiment right now. Google “Inside a Casino” to see if you can find one that doesn’t have garish carpets and neon lights. You won’t be able to, but one thing you might notice is the blue hue…
…yep, that’s right. There’s a lot of blue light inside casinos, and that’s because blue light is the part of the light spectrum that’s strongest in the daytime.
And, in case you’re curious, that IS why the sky’s blue! Sort of.
Not sure about you, but I make the best decisions when I’m drunk…scrap that. I THINK I make the best decisions when I’m drunk.
The truth is that drink lowers our inhibitions. You spend more money when you’re drunk, and this is why the casinos offer complimentary drinks.
But it’s not just that, the drink can lure you in off the street, too.
Did you know that casinos are one of the only places in the UK that serve booze after 3 am? The 24-hour supermarkets often have 24-hour alcohol licences too. Although, that doesn’t apply in Scotland.
Plus, supermarkets aren’t exactly buzzing with life at 4 am. If you’re looking for booze and excitement, then casinos are the place to head…
…or, at least, they will be when the casinos reopen!
All Carrot, No Stick
If you want to know the best technique for modifying people’s behaviour, look at the places that make money from getting you to behave in certain ways.
In other words, look at businesses and the techniques they use to change your behaviour. Businesses use techniques that work, regardless of moral dilemmas. They do this because it makes them money.
What I mean by that is that people argue a lot about the merits of punishment and reward. This is especially true with parenting.
You’ll hear things like, “A smack never hurt me” and “I behaved without getting a smack”. Yet, the argument never settles in one camp or the other (and I’m not even going to try to answer. I’m not that stupid).
Enter capitalism: the casinos use carrots to keep you gambling, you won’t see a stick at all. It’s all reward and no punishment.
You could argue that losing counts as punishment, but that’s more a side effect of gambling than a motivator. Except for people who chase their losses most people don’t react to losing all the time.
So what sort of carrots do they offer you?
Small and regular wins: you can’t go losing all your money all the time or you’d never play. Casinos have to give you hope that you can win. And, you can win. Some people win life-changing sums of money. But until that happens, they’ll keep you sweet with the little victories.
Loss leaders tempting you with freebies: show tickets, fight tickets, games, drinks, food, and VIP access.
Comfortable chairs: they want to keep you in your seat, so they make the chairs comfortable. You won’t find the hard plastic chairs of the fast-food joints!
Easy access to food: if you’re hungry and there’s no food around, you’re likely to leave the casino to go hunting. The casinos lay on a fair amount of food to get you to stay longer. In Las Vegas, they have full-on buffets.
Easy access to (plush) bathrooms: you need your creature comforts and nice toilets are a great way to do this.
It’s Hard to Get Out
Finally, the casinos like to make it a little adventure for you to get out of the room. They set the games up to act as a sort of labyrinth, where you have to take the right turn at the right time to get out.
The Minotaur tempts you to stay with its progressive jackpot slots fast-paced poker tables, easy-on-your-brain craps tables, the bar girls and boys…you’ll have to pass them all on your way out and they’re there to tempt you.
But, do you know what? It’s all worth it. A night at the casinos is fun and we can’t wait for the casinos to reopen.