Music has the power to move us in lots of different ways, and so it’s no surprise that it features almost universally in public spaces.
From elevators and bus station waiting rooms to restaurants, bars and beyond, music can be used to set the mood and influence emotions.
It’s also a great tool for engaging us, meeting our expectations and making sure we are having the best possible time. So it’s no surprise that there is a lot of thought and research which goes into the audio experience in a casino setting.
To unpick this intriguing topic further, let’s go through a few of the genres of music which gel most closely with gambling fans, and why it is that they are best suited to being the soundtrack of games of chance.
Some forms of jazz can be frenetic and disorienting, which is the opposite of the feelings you want to invoke in a casino environment. As such, the preferred subcategory of this genre for operators is smooth jazz.
The reason for this is surprisingly technical, as studies have shown that low tempo music is best if you want to keep players at the tables and the slot machines for as long as possible.
A few elements are influential here. While some of the most appealing songs about poker are high energy hits like Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, it’s unwise to play up-tempo tracks that are recognizable above the clamor of the casino floor.
This is because they will both distract players from the task at hand, and also drown out the other sounds which typify the interior of the average casino.
Operators want their customers to be able to distinguish the click-clack of the roulette wheel, the clinking of slot machines paying out, and the enthusiastic hubbub of players having a good time. Smooth jazz lets them do just that, without leaving the aural landscape completely bereft of musical accompaniment.
Another aspect which makes smooth jazz one of the best genres for casinos is that it is easy to blend the songs together so that there is no noticeable gap between them.
This is all about creating the illusion of timelessness within the casino, similar to the old trick of not having any clocks on the walls. If players can distinguish the difference between tracks, their sense of time’s passage will be preserved, and they might wander away elsewhere.
Big band & swing music
Casino music isn’t always chosen simply for its strategic benefits to the house; there are also decisions made which correlate with the history of the industry. This is why you’ll often find playlists which include tracks from the big hitters of the Rat Pack’s golden age being subtly siphoned into casino gaming floors.
Artists like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, as well as their modern counterparts like Michael Bublé, are popular choices in this context, and for obvious reasons.
Players associate casinos with the glitz and glamor of the musical genres they occupy, and it’s no surprise that they are very much jazz-adjacent, although at the more easy listening end of the spectrum.
While many of the popular songs from this genre will be well known and will break some of the ground rules for casino music mentioned earlier, what they have going for them is their ability to make players feel like they are part of something special.
Creating this connection between an average casino customer in the 21st century and the high rollers of the mid-20th century is a compelling idea, and one which casinos are not afraid to use.
Hip hop & rap
While so far it might seem that casinos prefer more traditional music genres to please their patrons, there are also plenty of venues which don’t shy away from more modern counterparts.
For example, it’s more than likely that you’ll hear rap and hip hop played in casinos nationwide, especially later in the day and into the evening when there is more of a party atmosphere.
And of course there are ample options from these genres which still stick to the low tempo rule, meaning that they won’t disturb gamblers and they won’t hurt the profits of casino operators.
What you will notice is that the volume levels of all music played in casinos are carefully controlled, so as not to overwhelm players. So the next time you are gambling, listen out to see what music is being played wherever you are.