Do Casinos use Pheromones?

5 min read

Forget about big wins, and put all thoughts of Casino Royal out of your head. No matter what you do, whether it be land based casinos or online casinos, they are designed to win. It doesn’t matter what system or strategy you use or whether you understand odds or not. The house will eventually claim all your hard-earned dollars. But what if you get particularly lucky on that day? With a good run, you end up winning substantial amounts of money. However, casinos won’t go down without a fight. They’ll give their best to keep you playing until your pockets are empty. To do so, the people running casinos have a wide selection of tricks and tactics.

Macau, China – October 15, 2017: Aerial view of blackjack tables and gamblers inside The Venetian Casino in Macau. Macau is the capital of casinos and Asian gambling and, now, in the world.

Keep in mind that casinos are huge businesses present on six continents and in more than 150 countries around the world. There are many reasons they have remained in business for so long, going beyond the simple urge to gamble. Casinos pay special attention to the casino environment, where even the smallest details are designed to keep you playing and maximise profits.

Casinos have a unique challenge: to make their customers lose, but at the same time, return for more. They need all the help they can get to achieve that goal, and the tricks they use are often dirty and below the belt.

You’re already familiar with the fact that there are no clocks or windows in casinos. Time has little meaning in casinos. The party never stops, and gambling sessions can last from hours to days. It’s crucial not to remind gamblers they have any responsibilities outside of the casino. That’s why there are no clocks. The same goes for windows, as seeing the passing of the sun can trigger a sense of time.

There are many other ways to keep players gambling. Casinos offer free food and drinks, as hungry people can easily stop playing, while sober players are not likely to make intelligent decisions like „I’ll put it all on black”.

Stimulating light and noise are there to create an impression that everyone around you is winning, while looping and hypnotic music help gamblers to enter a trance-like state where nothing but playing is important.

Another crucial factor that can make you play longer is the scent. This issue is often overlooked but has a strong impact on some decision gambler make.

The power of scent

Fragrances were initially introduced in casinos to mask the odour of smoke. That was a few decades back, but today they play an important role in keeping customers gambling and increasing casino revenue.

The use of scent has become so vital that a 2006 study fully revealed the impact it has on the business. The researchers conducted their study in two scented areas, while one served as a control section and had no aroma.

The first scent increased the casino returns by around 45%, although the other two showed no distinct difference in the number of visitors and the money they spend.

According to one theory, the scent has the power of drawing people and then making them either slow down or stop. In turn, this makes players more susceptible to gambling. It is believed that certain aromas can induce pleasant mental associations and increase the desire for gambling.

„Mental Dominance”, a book by Haha Lung and Christopher Prowant, states that certain scents used by the Las Vegas Hilton have increased playing time by up to 50%. The overall increase was even higher on Saturday when the concentration of these scents was higher.

Casinos have their signature scents. For example, The Mirage uses a scent whose goal is to invoke Polynesia. Mandalay Bay has a Southeast Asian scent, while the Bellagio reminds of Northern Italy. The ultimate goal is to trigger the memories associated with a specific aroma.

Breathe in, breathe out

In addition to scent, casinos also pump in additional oxygen to make their customers feel more refreshed. The goal is to keep them awake and alert, as sleepy gamblers could go home and take a nap. But a player full of energy will keep on gambling and thus spend more money.

This is when things go sci-fi, as reports are suggesting that casinos even use pheromones to make their customers feel more comfortable and euphoric, taking the addictive nature of gambling to an entirely new level.

Pheromones are odourless and airborne. Once a part of the nose, known as the Vomeronasal Organ, detects them, it sends signals to the hypothalamus, the brain’s centre of emotions. There are different pheromones, which trigger different responses. The one that casinos reportedly target instil a sense of security and comfort.

Pheromones are reportedly used to make players feel at ease and stay longer at a casino. That way, they can spend more money, and more importantly, they’ll be more inclined to return to that gambling venue in the future.

According to available sources, the compound used won’t cause players to spend more money, although the effect it has will probably do that at a subconscious level. The feeling of comfort will give them positive memories of the casino they’re playing. And who doesn’t want to spend more time in a place where they feel safe and secure?

Whether this is true or not is open for debate. No casino will even admit using sent or pheromones to make their customers stay longer and spend more. They will dismiss these rumours as urban legends, especially as the legality of these methods is questionable.

Casinos constantly have to maintain and respect the balance between their customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Is it right to encourage gamblers to continue? It’s all about making money, and for casinos, the end justifies the means.