Wednesday, October 04, 2006

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The casino experience Matt 04 Oct 2006

28 comments Latest by George

casinoFrom a design/experience perspective, casinos are fascinating places:

1) There are no windows. Gamblers have no idea whether it’s light or dark or sunny or rainy outside.

2) There are no clocks. Dealers are forbidden from wearing watches. Time becomes meaningless.

3) There’s intentionally poor navigation. They are built like mazes meaning it’s usually tough to find a way out.

4) There’s a constant barrage of noises. Slot machines spin, games ding and dong, coins hit metal, there’s the pitter patter of the people running the games, etc. Many of these sounds, like the ringing of the slots, is there to give you a false sense of hope (“If all of those bells are ringing, somebody must be winning!”).

5) Loose slot machines — ones that pay out more often — are placed near highly trafficked areas (e.g. the aisles, change booth, restaurants, etc.) so more people witness winners.

6) There’s constant research on all aspects of the sensory experience: scents, colors, interior design, and the angles of lights (e.g. light that hits people’s foreheads is a no-no because it apparently drains gamblers of energy).

7) The attire (or lack thereof) of everyone who works there contributes to the atmosphere (e.g. dealers in uniforms, pit bosses in suits, servers in skimpy outfits, etc.)

8) Free booze is delivered to gamblers without them having to get up.

9) It’s not a passive experience. Gamblers are made to feel like they influence the process. And when a gambler feels they can affect the outcome — by throwing the die, choosing a roulette number, or deciding when to split at blackjack — a feeling of control develops that keeps them gambling longer.

floor10) There’s a constant rhythm. Everything happens at regular intervals. Dice are rolled. Cards are dealt. Wheels are spun. Bets are placed. And then it happens again. (Interesting note: Casinos have slowly phased out deck shuffling by installing automatic shufflers. Gamblers used to get a break while dealers reshuffled. Now it’s a constant flow of cards which increases the number of hands per hour — and that means more money for the house.)

11) There are players cards which get frequent gamblers free nights, food, and room upgrades.

12) There’s a palpable energy in the room. Money’s on the line. It’s a big night out. People are paying attention. Everyone’s engaged.

13) Some say casinos are pumped full of oxygen so gamblers feel more awake and energetic. (Others say this is just a myth that, if true, would result in a tremendous fire hazard.)

14) The funnel pours one way. There are thousands of places to hand over money to the casino. Every craps table, blackjack table, roulette wheel, and slot machine will take your cash. Yet there’s only one place to get paid out in bills: the cashier window. And to get there, you’ve got to pass all those other places that want to take your money.

The result: a completely immersive and compelling customer experience. It’s no wonder some people don’t know when to stop.

Vijay M. Veerachandran

"I am a dreamer. I believe nothing is impossible. If we can picture in mind,
We should be able to accomplish it                 Vijay M. Veerachandran