Image of Psychology of Casino Design

Have you ever wondered why all casinos have similar interiors? You have probably noticed:

But there’s much more than meets the eye. 

Although players can only see what is happening around them on a surface level and what a casino wants them to see, every single detail is strategically placed and thought through. In fact, casinos employ psychological tricks and invest in ensuring everything works toward enticing people to ignore the odds and spend a lot of money.  

This article will discuss casino design psychology, the two design approaches most casinos rely on, and the most common hacks they use to hook players. 

What Is Casino Design Psychology?

Image of What Is Casino Design Psychology

Design psychology is a rapidly growing field in which architects and designers try to optimize their environment’s layout, color scheme, theme, sounds, smells, and decorations to promote specific behavior.

Casino design psychology uses two methods of design — the Freedman and the Thomas approach.

The former generates excitement and drive for gamblers, while the latter provides a relaxing and inviting environment. 

It’s worth noting that both designs significantly differ in many aspects, but each of them is carefully investigated to maximize consumer spending. Everything from the colors, lights, layouts, sounds, and smells, is carefully designed to entice gamblers to spend more. 

Freedman’s Gaming Design

Bill Friedman is a former gambling addict who turned his life around to become a designer and architect, occasionally working as a casino consultant and casino management professor. As part of his preparation for revamping the hotels he had taken over, Friedman studied over 80 Nevada casinos to see what they had that attracted visitors. Since he couldn’t change the games, he realized the setting had to be improved.

Friedman’s gambling addiction influenced his approach as it helped him evaluate every design aspect of money-making casinos. The former gambler concluded that bright lights, loud sounds, and being isolated from everything make people spend the most money. This is known as gaming design. Friedman’s analysis includes 13 principles encompassing every single casino design aspect, but we will mention a few. 

Color Scheme

Image of Color SchemesAn area’s color scheme is a vital aspect of gaming design.

Friedman argues that colors like bright orange and red are superior and increase adrenaline in gamblers, keeping them cheerful even when they’re losing.

Furthermore, studies show that these colors can increase appetite and excite customers, so Friedman tried to use this to his advantage.

Maze Layout

Image of Maze Layout in CasinosAnother crucial part is the overall layout of the gaming space. Friedman proposed that a confusing and maze-like layout would force guests to wander around.

So, for example, the playing floor does not have straight aisles leading to exits or clear pathways between sections.

This increases the players’ chances of seeing more machines, tables, restaurants, or bars where they would spend more money. This kind of layout also uses low ceilings and narrow pathways.

No Clocks or Windows

Image of Clock IconAnother key aspect of gaming design is to help the customer forget all about the outside world and only focus on gambling.

Casinos often remove clocks and windows and any other indication of how much time has passed. Thus, customers cannot know if it is getting late, which designers use as an advantage since they know how easy it is to get carried away when gambling.

Casinos are also well-lit and have décor to make you feel like it is a reasonable hour to be awake, which promotes complete gambling immersion. So, if you want to check the time, wear a watch.

Thomas’s Playground Design 

In contrast to the Freedom’s design, Roger Thomas based his principles on his experience as an architect to promote relaxation and luxury. This is known as the playground design. It is centered around the idea that people are more likely to take larger risks and gamble if they are comfortable in their space.

Following are the main principles of his approach. 

Color Scheme

Image of Lavish Color SchemesThe suggested color scheme of Thomas’s design is entirely the opposite of the gaming design.

Playground design casinos emphasize blue and gold to soothe the gamblers and make them feel more at ease.

The colors and decorations are as lavish as possible to make the customer feel more comfortable spending large amounts of money.

Luxury Decor

Image of Dry Martini IconThomas argues that every player wants to feel rich and glamorous, and the only way to provide them with it is to create such a space around them.

Contrary to Friedman’s approach, Thomas is an advocate of high ceilings wrapped in silk fabric and clear sight lines.

Casinos designed according to his approach have:

  • Big, elegant lobbies topped with sculptures
  • Real flower arrangements
  • Antique clocks
  • Skylights

Casino Layout

Image of Casino LayoutsPlayground casinos use large windows and other indications of the outside world as a means to put gamblers at ease.

Thomas states that someone will more likely keep gambling if they know they aren’t missing anything and that not knowing the time only serves to agitate the customers. He also argues that people are less likely to place bets when they feel trapped or confused.

Since socializing is integral to playing at casinos, the playground design leaves a lot of space between slot machines. This ensures that people who want to play in groups have enough space to do so.

Aspects Found in Both Types

Although these two designs differ in many ways, some aspects are universal. Let’s see which ones.


Image of Scents in CasinosBoth approaches agree that implementing pleasant scents from perfumes, essential oils, or plants increases spending in any environment.

Nowadays, you can notice that each casino has a signature scent that they pump into the air through ventilation systems.


Image of Sounds in a CasinoSound is another crucial aspect of both design types and a powerful stimulus. It contributes to the theme of a gaming floor.

As soon as you enter the playing floor, you can hear a symphony of various sounds — sirens, bells, slots wheels whirring, and music the casino plays.

Studies show that loud music can be distracting, but softer, ambient music can increase spending as long as it matches the design theme.

Coherent Theme

Image of Casino UniformsBoth approaches require a coherent theme throughout the casino building.

Gambling design focuses on gambling equipment as decor, and playground design tends to promote art. However, having a uniform theme is essential for a casino to increase earnings.


Image of Perks in a CasinoCasinos often offer complimentary meals and a free stay at their hotels to big spenders, allowing you to meet your basic needs without leaving the premises. Plus, you will likely gamble more after a good night’s sleep.

They also often feature loyalty programs that enable you to earn points even when you lose to make it easier to cope with losses.

If you collect enough points, they will offer you:

This way, players get the sense they won something despite spending a lot of money to accrue those points.

Casinos are aware that alcohol clouds judgment, so they take advantage of it by serving free alcohol around the clock.

Chips, Not Cash

Image of Not CashPlayers cope with losing chips easier than actual money when playing games like poker and blackjack. Some casinos even transfer your funds onto a card for games like slots.

The bottom line is they will do everything to dissociate your gambling from being aware you are spending the real money.


Image of Oxygen IconAs bizarre as it sounds, some gambling venues pump oxygen from pressurized tanks to keep players awake.

This way, gamblers feel refreshed and alert and can continue gambling without getting tired.

Near Wins

Image of Near Wins in CasinosIf you think players who often come close to hitting the jackpot are random, think twice.

Designers have worked on creating a system to tease players with small wins and constantly make them feel they are one more spin away from the jackpot.

Jackpot Effect

Image of Jackpot EffectEvery now and then, you will see someone hitting the jackpot. The casino makes sure everyone on the floor witnesses that event. You can hear bells and whistles and see flashing lights.

In fact, this is nothing but a psychological tactic these gambling venues employ to encourage other players to continue playing and keep in mind that maybe they are the next big winner.


There you have it. The most common psychology design tricks casinos use to make people gamble more of their money — from making them forget what time is, offering various perks, dazzling them with bright lights, to infusing oxygen to enable them to gamble for longer. 

Identifying these tricks and reminding yourself that things aren’t always what they seem is the best way to avoid falling victim to them. Being a good gambler requires keeping your emotions in check since this is what the casinos target.

About the Author

Author Sadonna Price has been part of the online casino industry for over a decade, watching it develop and expand across the US. She enjoys playing online slots and table games, as well as Texas Hold’em.