How do casinos use music to make games more entertaining?
It turns out, the psychology of different sounds is key to attracting the attention of players, and here's how...
If you've played any online slots game or spent an evening in your local casino, then you may wonder exactly why it is that you enjoy gambling so much.
Of course, you've got the thrill of playing and potential jackpots, but did you know that studies suggest music could also be a major factor?
Let's have a look at the evidence as to why...
The sound of Muzak
Casinos are designed to create a fun and relaxing environment to gamble in.
Yes, there's the slightly disorientating lack of clocks, maze-like layouts and psychedelic carpets, but essentially casinos are designed to make you happy to be there.
The lighting is kept low and the temperature isn't too hot or cold so as to ensure there are no distractions to interrupt what you are doing, while sights and smells are also designed to make gamblers feel more comfortable.
Music also plays a key part in this, with background soundtracks kept as unobtrusive as possible.
Easy-listening music, or Muzak, is pumped in during the daytime to relax gamblers, while popular rock and pop songs may be introduced at night time to help pump up the players.
Players react well to hearing familiar songs in their head as they play, which is why it's no wonder casinos employ covers bands and singers on weekends.
It's similar to the way shops are able to create different atmospheres to try and encourage shoppers to spend more, with both classical and louder, faster music used depending on the situation.
But research conducted in the 1960s actually found that just having loud music wasn't enough. If anything, it made shoppers want to leave early.
Gambling in the key of C
The most popular casino game by far is the slot machine, which occupy more room in a casino than any other type of gambling.
The same is also true online, with one Betway customer breaking the world record for a jackpot slots win in 2015 on Mega Moolah.
Slot machines are prevalent in casinos for good reason: they are cheap to run and players love to play them since the jackpots can be huge.
But how do over 200 different machines - all with their own flashing lights, bells and whistles, and jackpot klaxons - compete for the attention of players?
It has been proved that the key of C provides a more pleasant sonic environment, with one study in Finland going as far as to state that the chord instilled a feeling of happiness and nostalgia in subjects.
That's why more slot machines than ever now have their sound effects programmed in this key.
Familiarity makes the gambler grow fonder
But it's not just a flat C that draws players in, they also react to sounds of success.
Whistles and triumphant sirens go off whenever a prize is won, no matter how small, in order to draw other players in, too.
And although most winnings from slots these days are by voucher, that doesn’t stop manufacturers producing machines with metal coin trays so that everyone can hear the distinctive clang of coins as they get churned out.
Casino and slot developers also now employ sophisticated tracking systems to create profiles of typical players.
This includes how they react to certain sounds and images coming out of a slot, such as the voice of a famous actress or TV star or a top 10 hit.
Slot machines that are high-quality are also important, since they must be well-made and have slick sound design to make the gambler feel that a lot of money has gone into producing the machine.
In the end, it's all about capturing players' attention and keeping it.
In a study by Dr Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit, he found that casinos will alter the machines they stock to cater for different demographics.
Simpler slot machines with basic reels attract a 45-60 demographic while hi-tech slot machines with complex bonus features can cater for a younger audience, with the Elvis video slot machine and The Simpsons both proving hits in Vegas in recent years.
Both have familiar theme tunes and recognisable songs - described by Dr Griffiths "psycho-structural" interaction - that means players feel inclined to play again and again.
Keep spinning...keep winning
With so many online slots out there, developers have to keep players interested, and the casinos themselves like to keep players playing.
But finding a good online slot is about assessing the pay-outs and variance first.
So the best tactic is to put your head before your ears and pick a game based on its potential prizes rather than the noises it's making.