How gambling distorts reality and makes you lose track of time

Iasmina Bunea

Casino expert

How gambling distorts reality and makes you lose track of time and money

Have you ever noticed how quickly time flies by when you are engaging in a pleasant activity? That is normal and it happens every time you are in good company, having fun, or playing or watching a game you like.

However, when it comes to physical casinos, there are many efforts put into purposefully losing track of time and, consequently, losing money while gambling. Here are the effects of gambling on the brain and what you can do about it!

How land-based casinos distort reality to their advantage

The gambling industry has evolved greatly since its beginnings and you can see that in all the ways land-based casinos successfully distort reality and make their customers play more and spend more.

How does gambling affect the brain?

They have studied their clientele for so long and with so much interest that they are now carefully manipulating every detail of the casino environment in order to keep players on a gamble hook.

Here are the most important things all land-based casinos do and you may not be aware of:

1.     No way to tell what time it is

If you have ever gambled in a brick-and-mortar casino, you have probably noticed the absence of windows. And no, this is not to protect the identity of the people inside, as many may not want to be seen gambling by someone they know.

The lack of any windows is to not allow you to see outside and notice time has passed, the sunset, or that it started raining. This way, you won’t be wondering what time it is anytime soon.

If you don’t manage your time in an exact manner, you have a higher risk of losing money gambling.

Land-based casino

Have you ever asked yourself: why are there no clocks in casinos?

Actually, there are not clocks on the walls, because the more time you spend in a casino, the more you are prone to losing money gambling.

If you are not wearing a watch, you will not think too often to pull out your smartphone and check the time, as you will be too entertained by the games and the atmosphere.

2.     Casino scents – smells like jackpots

Fragrances were first used in casinos to mask the odour of smoke, but today, they play an even more important role. Numerous studies conducted by psychologists have shown that casino scents trigger memories, and influence emotions and behaviours.

According to ‘Mental Dominance’, a book written by Ha-ha Lung and Christopher Prowant, guests at the Las Vegas Hilton are influenced by floral scents to increase their usual gambling time by 50%.

What is the psychological effect of using certain scents?

Each casino has its signature smell and you will notice that it is the same in every location of that brand. The smells are not the relaxing kind, as no one comes to the casino to relax.

Rather, they use invigorating scents, but also ones that alleviate anxiety, as players have to be confident about their gambling.

3.     Casino interior design and how nothing is randomly picked

Most casinos look very similar when it comes to interior design, even if there are some notable differences, the overall atmosphere is almost the same.

Slot Machine

Have you ever wondered how come they manage to look so similar while having different layouts and furniture?

The secret lies in the details!

Colours are strategically chosen to evoke the idea of an after-hours attraction, even in the middle of the day.

The décor is rich in colour and you can notice velvet reds, vibrant greens, timid yellows, and warm browns. Bold shapes and colours draw attention to the casino’s floor, where the magic happens.

Creating a colourful Mise-en-scène

Keeping the player’s attention to the floor, where all the games are, is so important that not even the carpet is randomly selected. Casino carpets would be rather untasteful if placed in other establishments.

However, in casinos, they are perfect. Floral motives, rockets, rainbows, they are loud and they do have a strong impact on the customers’ subconscious and the overall atmosphere of the place.

Vegas Slot Machine

Even if maybe you never notice the furniture in a gambling establishment, you should know that casinos spend a lot of money on designer-quality seats and couches. They hope they will get it back as more and more patrons are losing money gambling more than initially intended.

Getting comfortable in the casino atmosphere

This has nothing to do with exquisite taste, but with the need to make players comfortable and allow them to sit for hours and lose money gambling. Bathrooms are adorned with luxurious accessories that make ladies feel exquisite while powdering their noses.

The space is also used effectively. Even if, as you look around the room, you will see a huge number of slots and table games, they are placed in a way that gives every player privacy and the chance to be in their own little world while they’re gambling. Too little space and the player becomes irritated and might even move to a different game or leave the establishment.

4.     Lights and music – the duo that gets the dopamine flowing

Casinos have a few tricks up their sleeves even when it comes to music and lighting.

The casino music is, actually, nice, but have you ever noticed when the song changed? Probably not, because the tracks usually have no lyrics and they are similar in tempo, allowing for a seamless change between songs. This also contributes to keeping the player from realizing how much time has passed.

Picking the right songs to relax the atmosphere

If they were to play entire albums, by the time the first track is playing again, you might realize you’ve been there for a while. Therefore, the songs are carefully picked and the volume is never too loud allowing the casino games’ sounds and chatter to also be distinguished.

This mix may sound annoying, but when you are there, you will notice it is actually stimulating, makes your brain release dopamine, and you will feel ready to start playing.

Lights and music on land based casino

What about casino lights?

The lights are dim and the slot machines have colourful and bright features dancing on and around their screens, making them even more appealing.

The ceiling usually has small lights on it as well, and in some places, it even imitates the night sky.

The psychology of gambling addiction

You’ve seen all these factors that influence that player’s behaviour and get him even more hooked. These are, actually, the premises for gambling addiction, which can have devastating effects on your mental and physical well-being.

So, you get into a state of dopamine gambling, meaning the uncertainty and suspense of winning or losing releases this neurotransmitter in the brain and makes you want to play even more. And, the longer you stay in a casino, the more you’ll stir a battle in your head, between the ideas of ‘what if I win’ or ‘what if I lose’ and you begin taking even higher risks.

This is why it is important to recognise the signs immediately and get the appropriate treatment for gambling addiction.

Online casinos and their efforts to hook players

Now that you know what to expect from a land-based casino, you are probably wondering how online casinos manage to do the same without having a physical place to use as their advantage.

Some tricks still work online!

When gambling online, the clock is always present whether you use your personal computer or a mobile device. There is no specific scent and no interior design that can draw you to keep playing. However, manipulating lights, colours, and music still works.

The effects that work with your senses may get you closer to losing money gambling!

First trick: a simple design

Casino websites are created with a simple design most of the time, to make even inexperienced players feel like they know what they are doing and that everything comes naturally to them.

Even if the design may not be too heavy, what really pops are the games and the promotions. With colourful thumbnails, flashing lights, glitter, and animations, your attention is drawn towards games and casino bonuses.

Playing casino on the phone

Second trick: exciting bonuses

Promotions are meant to keep you on a gamble hook, expanding your casino balance and allowing you to try more games and develop a taste for it.

This does not take long, as every game is created with the purpose to make the player want to play more. The lights and animations transport the player into the game’s world and the music that perfectly matches the theme helps with that.

Final trick: vivid games

One thing that you may have not noticed but is very obvious is that casino games are designed to make you feel like a winner even when you are losing.

What is the casino strategy?
  • The house always has the advantage and while you may only get back fractions of your bets, you will have a good feeling about it, thanks to how it is presented to you.
  • What you see on the screen is that you’ve won some money, the symbols sparkle on the reels, and the upbeat sounds start playing. Everything is created in a way that delays the realization that you are losing money gambling in certain spaces.

Also, these contribute to the appeal of the game which makes you come back and play it again or bet over budget and spend more time enjoying it. Every game has its own little universe and when you play it, you are completely immersed in it, making you lose track of time even if the clock is right in front of you.

What to do to avoid losing track of your time and money while gambling

Land-based casino rules: bear in mind!

  • Wear a watch. It is easier to check the time than pulling out your smartphone every time;
  • Set an alarm either on your watch or phone and when the time is up, leave the casino;
  • Set a budget and a maximum win limit. Once you either realize you’re losing money gambling or hit the winnings goal, consider your gaming session finished;
  • Measure your time with drinks. For example, say you will stay in the casino for the time you need to have two drinks. Once you have those two drinks, it’s time to go.
Avoid losing time while gambling

Online gambling platforms: use all the available options!

  • Use the casino’s features to set a timer and periodical pop-up notifications. These will help you keep track of your time;
  • Check the betting history the casino keeps and see your losing money while gambling streak;
  • Set a budget and never go over it. Also set a win limit so you can leave while you’re ahead;
  • Avoid playing games in full screen mode, so the level of immersion will be lower and you can still see the clock on your computer screen.

What is your next move?

By knowing these things and following these simple steps you will be able to keep gambling as a fun activity and not turn it into a problem. Many gamblers overlook these things and eventually have to deal with gambling addiction.

Keep in mind that casinos only make a profit when their clients are losing money gambling, so it is important for you to always be aware of how much money you are giving them. Also, knowing when to stop is crucial, as it can make the difference between profit and loss.

Now that you know about some of the most important ways casinos distort reality, you might want to pay more attention and be more mindful the next time you gamble!