What Happens When Gambling?

Neuroscience Effects in the Casino

Neuroscience principles are made use of by casinos to create environments that encourage players to stay and play. Casinos  carefully design their spaces to arouse the senses, e.g., flashing lights, vibrant colors, and sounds. These stimuli create an attention-grabbing atmosphere of excitement and pleasure that activate the brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine. Casinos also utilize knowledge of cognitive biases to employ techniques such as variable reward schedules, where the timing and magnitude of reinforcements are unpredictable, thus keeping player engaged and coming back for more. 

High-energy cocktail lounges and music venues add to the excitement/stimulation. Additionally, discounts, promotions, car give aways, random prizes, plus customer status recognition via reward cards all add up to benefits reinforcing the customer’s experience and expectations.

Neuroscience influences the layout of casino floors as well. Games are strategically placed in high-traffic areas to capture the attention of passing patrons.  Subtle cues lead them deeper into the gaming area which is often deliberately labyrinth-like to encourage prolonged stays.

But the key to success is delivering excitement and fun. Jamul Casino in San Diego County is a good example of doing things right. I recently had an opportunity to take my newly age-appropriate grandson for his first casino experience. He signed up for their Sweetwater Rewards card and “won” immediately by receiving free pulls at the slot machine of his choice. Wish I could report a jackpot, but it was not to be. 

The Jamul Casino encompasses 200,000 square feet of 24/7 entertainment, food, and gambling. There are over 1,700 flashing, chiming, bell ringing slots, and 46 tables offering 15 different games, including the big four; craps, blackjack, roulette, and pai gow. My favorite area is the well appointed, comfortable ten table poker room.  A customer friendly perk (reward) in the casino is their state-of-the-art beverage dispensers, including coffee, water, and soft drinks; all free.

There are many dining options ranging from burgers to a gourmet steakhouse. We chose the award winning Tony Gwynn’s Sports Pub for lunch. It features an extensive, interesting menu, and excellent service.  Don’t miss their specialty, a grilled lobster and cheese sandwich.  My grandson, a vegetarian, found several items that fit his needs.  

Information: There’s ALWAYS something going on at the Jewel of Jamul. In 2025, the 16-story boutique Jamul Casino Hotel will open. Keep tuned for updates. Everything about Jamul Casino’s entertainment, promotions, restaurants, and specials can be found at its website, www.JamulCasinoSD.com.

Thanks to Isaac Schwein, a graduate from the University of British Columbia Vancouver, majoring in neuroscience, for assisting with the science component of the story. Posted May 29, 2024.

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