People gamble more if they hear the typical sounds of the casino. These casino sounds and the Payout Memories they elicit can hold the key to helping casinos navigate the post-shutdown world.
University Study Of Casino Sounds
The data came from a study at the University of Alberta. During the study, professors analyzed 600 people over two years. They found that people want to feel like they’re in a casino, even if they’re gambling on an app at home.
They want to hear coins dropping. They want to see the dollar signs on the game. Dr. Christopher Madan, who helped with the study, said it’s partly due to how Hollywood presents gambling.
“Are we conditioned to that sound of coins? Yes,” Dr. Madan said. “We get that from tv, from movies. It’s what we expect when going into a casino.”
Casino Sounds As A Trigger
The study found the sounds of a casino also act as a trigger of sorts. When given the choice between a relatively “safe” machine and a risky one, participants in the study constantly chose the risky one when it had “casino sounds” attached.
When professors switched and attached the “casino sounds” to the “safe” option, the majority of participants went with that one instead. When no sounds were used at all, people just didn’t have as much interest in the risky options.
“What makes those sounds special is still an open question,” Madan said. “We also found that when they heard the sounds, people were able to remember previous wins.”
Sounds Result In “Payout Memories”
That means the sounds brought back what the study called “payout memories.” Payout memories are thoughts of the last time the person won at a casino or through a gaming app.
Madan, who currently studies memory and behavioral research at the University of Nottingham, said it just shows the attraction to casino gaming can be influenced by things other than winning.
Professor Marcia Spetch, a co-author of the study who works in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, echoed his thoughts.
“These results show how cues associated with money or winning can make slot machines more attractive and can even make bigger wins more memorable,” Spetch said. “Such cues are prevalent in casinos and likely increase the allure of slot machine gambling.”
Can This Study Help Casinos Recover From The Shutdown?
That last point is something physical casinos could benefit from. According to the American Gaming Association, the U.S. economy will lose $43.5 billion if the casino industry doesn’t re-open until mid-May.
More than that, individual casinos took a big hit as 56 million people canceled or postponed plans to visit a casino due to COVID-19. To put that in perspective, those cancellations add up to 22 percent of the entire American population. In short, casinos can’t just go back to business as usual when the re-launch happens.
The New Business As Usual For Casinos
Everything we’ve seen so far points to an industry that plans to take advantage of a desire everyone will have to “just go somewhere” once quarantine orders lift. That’s slightly problematic, to say the least.
First, we have to recognize that some people haven’t been paid in a month. Yes, they will be getting stimulus checks from the government. But that money will have to pay bills. In many states, utility companies aren’t forgiving bills, but simply delaying those debts.
It’s not an argument about if they want to spend the stimulus on entertainment, but if they’re able to.
In that case, a more pragmatic plan is needed. Start rolling out marketing initiatives now to convince people to spend their Labor Day or another fall break at the casino. This enables casinos to start to collect bookings once again. And that’s where the University of Alberta study comes in.
Using Casino Sounds To Encourage Bookings
As the professors mentioned earlier in this article, the sounds are the key. They trigger a desire to keep playing, a thought of being in the casino.
Companies can use these sounds in a series of radio and podcast ads right now. The sounds are easy to create from home studios. Help people make that connection between their memories of winning and your physical casino.
Entertainment Isn’t Enough
Then, once the casinos reopen, it’ll be time to run TV ads along those same lines.
In recent years, casino ads retreated from that focus on familiar sounds. They talk up a full entertainment experience, with the “what happens here stays here” catchphrase as an example.
But every casino can’t be in Vegas and benefit from that tagline. If you compete based on entertainment value alone, you start going up against every type of entertainment event and facility out there.
Connecting Emotion To The Casino Experience
And, in a situation where people will likely have less disposable income than normal, they have to make that decision based on who offers the most. People will seek out where they can get the most ‘bang for the buck.’
The one thing casinos have, as evidenced by the Alberta study, is that they generate an emotion. People connect the sounds of the casino to emotions and memories.
If you can connect that emotion to your casino, there’s an opportunity to bring more customers in the door.