How Casinos Use Scent Marketing To Attract & Retain Gamblers

While the attraction to casinos is the obvious lure of quick gain and gambling, the issue of scent is a very important although sometimes overlooked factor, which can determine whether or not a player will return to a particular casino.

Casinos Are Unique Business Environments

Casinos are challenged more than any other type of business operation because their revenue depends exclusively on others losing theirs. Everyone knows there are no clocks or windows in casinos insuring that gamblers lose track of both time and their money.

Scent marketers have to find ways for gamblers to continue to lose themselves in the thrill and risk and the desire to return, ignoring the odds, even after patrons have lost their shirts and other important elements of their wardrobes.

Granted that gambling can be addictive and that many factors go into casino design and space, it is still mostly the scents employed by aroma branders that trigger emotional conditioning and loyalty.

When fragrances were first used in casinos more than a few decades back, it was primarily to mask the foul odor of smoke, but today all that has changed and scents play a very complex and vital role in increasing casino revenue and visits. In a recent inquiry, of almost 1,000 people, 86% admitted that a fragrance could evoke a vivid memory of the past.

The Subtle Power Of Scent In Casinos

Our third sense is very powerful because it is part of memory formation. The lingering wisp of perfume in the air can mentally transport one to a childhood kitchen or to a lover’s arms. In fact, a 2006 general study concerning aromas used in casinos was conducted via two scented areas and one without any aroma as a control section.

The first scent increased returns to the casino by about 45%, whereas the other two sections with fragrance #2 and no scent at all noticed no appreciable difference in the amount of visitors than on other weekends.

The paper hypothesized about these results.

One theory was that the aroma drew people to the area and made them either slow down or stop, making them more susceptible to gambling. Although it cannot be said for sure, it does seem likely that the room with the first aroma affected passersby with a phenomenon known as olfactory-evoked recall in which the aroma pleasantly induced mental associations that enhanced the mood to gamble.

Las Vegas Slot Machines And The Effects Of Ambient Scents

According to Ha-ha Lung and Christopher Prowant’s book, Mental Dominance, at the Las Vegas Hilton floral scents influence guests to spend 50% more playing time. Relevant more recent studies have also indicated that ambient aromas have a powerful impact on the behavior of the average gambler.

In addition, the amount of the increase was greater on Saturday when the concentration of odorant was higher. The amounts of money gambled in the areas of slot machines surrounding aroma No. 2 and in the control area with no specific aroma did not change significantly when compared to the previous weekend and the weekend following the experiment.

ambient scent powerful trigger for consumers

Discover the bottom line benefits scent can have for businesses

The Science Of Scenting Casino And Gambling Environments

According to scenting experts, it’s smart to emphasize cleanliness in the development of casino scents because it has an effect on perception, especially in casinos where patrons spend days not hours within the service environment.

Signature casino scents are all different as often each hotel is trying to invoke a different region of the world; The Mirage is Polynesian; Mandalay Bay is Southeast Asian and the Bellagio whispers of Northern Italy.

The success of defining these scents starts with understanding that the third sense as being very tricky. (It isn’t like a story with three different sides; his, hers and the truth.) Everyone takes in the aroma, whatever it is, exactly the same way.

The difference in reaction lies in the memories associated with that aroma, which are different for everyone. That said, there are certain guides with which scenting strategists works; citrus aromas are refreshing; floral, cedar and other woodsy scents are soothing and relaxing as are herbaceous aromas which can also be invigorating, such as peppermint.

Environmental Factors And Ambient Scent In Casinos

It is impossible to escape one’s environment or ‘servicescape’. It defines the space in which people act, react and interact. This is particularly important in a service setting such as a casino because the activity and the environment merge as one experience. Some scents work better than others.

For example, geranium is a warm, rich, uplifting and soothing aroma. It is also known to alleviate anxiety and nervousness, which are understandable when one is betting perhaps more than they should on numbers, cards, colors or the random roll of dice.

Scents that evoke cleanliness have a profound effect on the average slot machine and casino player. This is perhaps due to the amount of time usually spent gambling, which could be days as opposed to a few hours of gallery shopping, walks, etc.  In addition, experts believe that customer service and a ‘clean’ atmosphere were not only interrelated, but also explained 57% of the variance in satisfaction with the gaming experience.

Atmosphere from a slot machine player’s perspective was further examined by a study performed by Meyer and Johnson. They examined data from 195 surveys and concluded that other factors concerning successful casino atmosphere were: odors, décor and color, floor layout, theme, employee uniforms, ceiling height and noise level.

In conclusion

The balance between casino player satisfaction, loyalty and environment must be respected and delicately maintained. This means in addition to customer service and other variables, the proper scent must waft above, encouraging the gambler to continue even when the voice in his head may scream: STOP!

If you’re a casino owner, manager or a scent marketing company that services one, and you’re looking for more insight on the best scents and scent diffusers for casinos large areas, reach out to our team today!


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