Did you know that modern casino design was influenced by a former gambling addict? Who would know better, right? While gambling industry organizations have fashioned guidelines for promoting responsible gaming, the methods establishments use to keep you playing are right there in plain sight. In fact, you can’t miss them—by design—even if you don’t understand why they’re there.  

Here we’ll discuss how casinos use décor and facility layout as psychological tools to keep gamblers gambling, including those carpets with complicated patterns and clashing colors that you would never allow in your own home. We’ll also explore some of the internal psychological factors that may incline an individual to gamble and potentially become addicted to the pastime.  

Psychology of the Gambling Establishment: The Devil Is in the Décor  

While gamblers play to win, casinos employ some of their own moves to keep gamblers playing. You may win, but the longer you play, the higher the odds are that you’ll lose money before leaving the casino. That’s why they don’t want you to leave. Psychology plays a central but sometimes indiscernible role in their efforts to keep you seated. It’s easy to identify the conspicuous coaxing behind free drinks, meals, and hotel rooms, but you may not recognize some other ways they encourage you to stay put. 

Reformed gambler Bill Friedman helped the casino industry uncover some secrets to keeping gamblers at the tables or slots longer. His recommendations were the go-to guidance for casino design for decades, though some establishments have since implemented alternate methods. As you’ll see, many standard practices are centered on how your brain reacts to the way the gaming floor is decorated and laid out: 

  • The bright lights and colors, music, collective hum of the slot machines, and pleasant scents pumped through ventilation systems all say, “Stay and have fun!” (It’s notable that online gambling does not share the same appeal and is considered less conducive to compulsive playing.) 
  • Those ugly casino carpets aren’t the work of an interior decorator with bad taste: They have their own psychological purpose. Most of the designs are so “busy” you couldn’t possibly relax, get tired, and call it a night in their vicinity. Further, they can help keep your eyes on the games.  
  • Many casinos have no windows or clocks within eyeshot of the gaming floor, so gamblers may not realize how long they’ve been playing or that the sun has set and risen since they last saw it.  
  • The best gaming floors are those that are not easy to leave. That’s why many are laid out in a maze-like fashion that makes a quick exit difficult. 

Psychology of the Gambler: Quite a Rush 

What motivates gamblers? The Mental Health Foundation says this: “the adrenaline rush to win money, socialise or escape from worries or stress.” It’s easy to understand that the potential to walk away richer could compel someone to take risks with the money they already have. Any pleasurable activity causes the release of the hormone dopamine in the human brain. Per the Cleveland Clinic, “our brains are hard-wired to seek out behaviors that release dopamine in our reward system … You feel good and you seek more of that feeling.” Risk-taking, inherent to gambling, can also be a rush with the release of adrenaline and dopamine and resulting pleasurable sensations. 

Too much pleasure, however, carries its own risk; in gambling, addiction is a possible outcome. While all of us enjoy a good dopamine rush no matter the cause, some people are at greater risk for gambling addiction, including those with mental health issues and particular personality traits. There’s also evidence that losing motivates gamblers to start new games more quickly to recoup their losses—a phenomenon known as “post-loss speeding.” Further, a 2022 study suggests that gamblers are more predisposed to psychopathy, a “neuropsychiatric disorder marked by deficient emotional responses, lack of empathy, and poor behavioral controls …”  

Americans show no signs of giving up the rush their gambling habits provide anytime soon. To the contrary, gambling establishments are reaping record revenue

Make a Responsible Investment for Your Future  

When it comes to career potential, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology is a shrewd move. Here’s why: 

  • A psychology degree will help you develop skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. The U.S. Department of Labor and leading business publications both report these soft or durable skills are among the most desired traits for new hires today. 
  • The skills you’ll hone while earning a psychology degree can help you qualify for jobs in a variety of rewarding roles and fields. While you will not be a psychologist upon graduating with this degree, you may be able to pursue a career as a:  
    • Case manager 
    • Case worker 
    • Data scientist 
    • Group therapy facilitator 
    • Human resources professional 
    • Management professional 
    • Marketing professional 
    • Mental health worker 
    • Nonprofit professional 
    • Public health professional 
    • Researcher 

The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology gives you a firm foundation in general education courses encompassing arts, sciences, mathematics, and humanities complemented by core curriculum offering the opportunity to explore abnormal psychology, social psychology, experimental psychology, and drugs and behavior, among other subjects. 

Our program’s 100% online, asynchronous format also makes it a sensible choice for anyone who needs to juggle professional and personal responsibilities while earning their degree. No campus visits are required, and you can complete your studies on your own schedule from any time zone on the planet. 

Consider our online BA in psychology as in investment in your career success. Get more program details or apply now