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The importance of sounds in casino marketing

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

It is assessed that the sounds that accompany slots winnings and losses have distinct, measurable physiological effects on players. The factors that contribute to these effects are not fully known and these aspects are still being investigated. Sounds may be a key factor in the slot game.

Sounds play an important role in the gambler’s mood

Basically, sounds play an important role in the gambler’s mood and influence the stress resistance of players. It is the use of sound for positive reinforcement in particular that we believe influences the player. A study done in 2012 on 96 participants who played games with and without sounds, revealed some surprising data. Skin conductance responses and heart rate, as well as subjective judgments about the gambling experience were examined. The results showed that the sound influenced the arousal of participants both psychophysically and psychologically.  The sound also influenced players’ preferences, with the majority of players preferring to play slot machines that were accompanied by winning sounds. The sounds also caused players to significantly overestimate the number of times they won while playing the slot machine.

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Music and sound effects can play an important role in the psychology of a game

In the case of slot machines, the sounds were introduced in the 1900s, being about 15 sound effects. They have diversified and been greatly improved, reaching up to about 400 sound effects per slot machine. Winning sounds are very important and very attractive, while losing sounds are hard to hear. We will further refer at the sound effects that accompany the gains as “winning sounds” and at the ones that accompany the losses as “losing sounds”.

When online slots first appeared in the late 1990s, the device manufacturers of that time put the most basic noises on devices. The good news is that at least there were the option to turn off the sound; in addition, you gambled in the comfort of your own home and were not disturbed by anyone on the street. After a few years, slot machine producers begin to realize that improving sound effects can do a better thing and make the player’s experience memorable. Slot producers have realized that music and sound effects can play an important role in the psychology of a game, building an atmosphere full of emotion that makes it seem like a big win is on the way. It is quite clear that these aspects attract attention and keep the player focused for a little longer.

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The winning sounds are carefully constructed to be heard over the ambient noise of the environment, in order to draw attention to the machines and to raise the self-esteem of the player, who then becomes the centre of attention on the floor (shows a study of Griffiths and Parke 2005). Often, the winning music contains high-pitched, major mode songs, which has a tendency to increase the perception of urgency (regarding a study conducted by Haas and Edworthy 1996).


Read also “Let your data do the talking”


The sounds used in casinos give us the impression that winning is much more common than losing…Is that true?

The sound effects of electronic gambling devices in a casino can play a significant role in the perception of games. Background music played in casinos or game halls changes throughout the day, with pop music played in the daytime and relaxing music in the evening (Dixon, Trigg, & Griffiths, 2007). Noise and music give the impression of an interesting and fun environment and give us the idea that wins are more often than losses. In fact, Anderson and Brown (1984), in a comparison of the reactions generated by gambling in a laboratory or in a casino, found that in the casino, the player’s heart rate increases considerably. Moreover, for some players the increased exposure to the casino environment can lead to a high level of excitement.

Studies on the physiological response to sound (usually industrial noise, but also music, speech and other sounds) have found that sounds can contribute to high blood pressure and, most importantly, can affect performance when it comes to attention and vigilance (Smith & Morris 1997). Wolfson and Case (2000) studied the heart rate response to manipulating sound intensity in a computer game, finding that louder sounds led to increased heart rate and discussed the impact that physiological arousal has on our level of attention. They found that people who perform a task when minimally aroused are more likely to be slow, indifferent, and spread their attention across a wide range of stimuli. When they are extremely aroused, people tend to be faster but less accurate, and focus mainly on the most important aspects of a task. Thus, both high and low levels of arousal can have detrimental effects on performance. (Wolfson & Case, 2000, p. 185)

Losses disguised as wins

 Losses Disguised as Wins (LDW) are slots outcomes where one wins back less than they wager. Despite the losses, the slot machines celebrate LDWs with positive sounds and animations, causing players to react to them as wins. It is not known how sound manipulation after LDW can influence player behavior. However, it is clear that sounds can conceal losses and create the impression of gains that strongly attract and influence.

You should also know that no sound setting, loud or slow volume, “low” or “high” frequency sounds, or anything else, will have an impact on the slot machine payout. Therefore, slot machine sounds can serve functions, including: outlining a game context, creating an image, delimiting the space, interacting with visual characteristics, determining players to act, communicating achievements to players, providing recognition and enhancing the player’s emotions and gaming experience.

Bibliographical references:

The Impact of Sound in Modern Multiline Video Slot Machine PlayMike J. DixonKevin A. HarriganDiane L. SantessoCandice GraydonJonathan A. Fugelsang, and Karen Collins

Sound in Electronic Gambling Machines: A Review of the Literature and its Relevance to Game Sound -In book: Game Sound Technology and Player Interaction: Concepts and Developments, Chapter: 1, Publisher: IGI Global, Editors: Mark Grimshaw

In-store music and consumer–brand relationships: Relational transformation following experiences of (mis)fit. Journal of Business Research, 59, 982–989. doi:10.1016/j. – jbusres.2006.07.001 – Beverland, M., Lim, E. A. C., Morrison, M., & Terziovski, M. (2006).

The sights and sounds of winning on a slot machine may increase your desire to play — and your memories of winning big, according to new research by University of Alberta scientists.-

Measuring Gamblers’ Behaviour to Show That Negative Sounds Can Reveal the True Nature of Losses Disguised as Wins in Multiline Slot Machines – Molly L. Scarfe, Madison Stange & Mike J. Dixon –Journal of Gambling Studies (2020)

Using Sound to Unmask Losses Disguised as Wins in Multiline Slot Machines – Mike J. Dixon • Karen Collins • Kevin A. Harrigan • Candice Graydon • Jonathan A. Fugelsang

by Mircea Panait

Author: Editor

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