The Secrets to Casino Design: 3 Interior Tricks to Make You Spend More

The Secrets to Casino Design: 3 Interior Tricks to Make You Spend More

It’s no secret that the casino industry has consumer psychology dialed down to a fine art. Every detail contributes to an experience designed specifically to encourage you to part with as much cash as possible – nothing is left to chance. We take a look at some of the most intriguing design tricks that casinos employ to help achieve that goal.


Early Casinos

The first gambling houses were found in 17th century Italy; Il Ridotto, “The Private Room” was an extension of the Palazzo Dandolo in Venice which would become the West’s first commercial casino. Although open to the public, the high stakes nature of the games and the elaborate dress code meant Il Ridotto was frequented only by nobility.


Casinos as we’d recognize them today started to appear in the early 20th century. Just a year after Las Vegas township was founded in 1905, its first casino, The Golden Gate, opened its doors, two years before Vegas’ first telephone was installed. Nowadays, The Strip is a neon drenched mecca of slot machines and table games that attracts over 40 million patrons a year. 

And the iconic neon signage is the first indication – one that you won’t miss and that can be seen from miles in any direction – of how the casinos are at work to communicate their message to you.

Setting the Tone

Casinos come in many shapes and sizes: from the exclusive and sophisticated tables of Monte Carlo to the razzle-dazzle of the penny slots. The lighting, ambience and even dress code of the former puts patrons in a frame of mind where they’re more likely to place larger bets than they might have done in a less elegant milieu. Whereas the latter and its ebullient atmosphere will see betting frequency increase, even if the wagered amounts are lower.

Slot machines themselves are their own self-contained light show, preprogrammed to flash in complex and alluring patterns. Scientists utilizing eye-tracker technology found that people were paying more attention to the flashing lights than they were the information regarding their odds – encouraging higher risk decision making.

Even the eye-catching architectural marvels of the world’s most renowned casinos – think the Bellagio and its 500-foot-high fountain – are designed that way to romance your senses and convey a message of opulence, wealth, and glamor. 

Of course, when you think of modern casinos, your first thought might not be a brick-and-mortar establishment but instead, one of the industry’s online counterparts. Online casinos have a set of tricks all of their own to win over your custom, some of which can verge on the nefarious.

You can find the safest options using sites like to make sure you’re gaming with a reputable company that you can trust. They explain how the providers are regulated as well as listing payment methods offered and cash out times, limits, and fees.

Keeping Their Own Time

You’ll be hard pressed to find a clock in a casino and you may also notice a distinct lack of windows. Stepping into a casino can have the same feeling as the 24-hour sunlight of a polar summer day – what feels like another realm that exists apart from the ordinary time constraints of the outside world.

The house wants to keep gamers playing for as long as possible and clocks and windows will only act as a distraction, broadcasting to people how long their session has already lasted. Furthermore, the longer you play, the closer your actual odds will approach to the game’s prescribed odds.

This strategy is combined with the intentionally labyrinthine layouts of the gaming floor. Thoroughfares wind and weave between tables and slot machines and do so to tantalize you on the way to your destination. Whether you’re heading to the restroom, the bar, or the exit, the more stimulating that journey is, the more likely you are to stop for one last spin en route.

The Playground

More recently there has been somewhat of a U-turn in regard to the windowless casino. Although they have long been the smoky, testosterone charged domains of men – having much in common with a sports bar – it is becoming increasingly apparent that slot machines in particular are favored by women.

Modern establishments are now keener to brighten these spaces with natural light and foliage to make them more comfortable and inviting and it has been found that although gamblers might come away with bigger losses on average, they are more likely to want to return.

Bill Friedman was the architect of casino design and management for over two decades at the tail end of the 20th century – quite literally writing the book on the subject. He transformed the fortunes of two of Las Vegas’ worst performers into remarkable successes.

Roger Thomas is the new name on the scene and is turning much of what Friedman established on its head. Thomas is responsible for the ‘playground’ approach to casino floor design, to create a less stressful atmosphere that players enjoy being in – a process he calls ‘evoca-tecture’. 

Whether you’re heading to the bright lights of a casino in the real world or you’re gaming online from the comfort of your own home, keep an eye out for all the ways you feel compelled to keep playing and ask yourself if that’s by design or coincidence.