What Music Works Best in Casinos?

When people think of casinos, they typically think of gambling, drinks, fancy dresses and suits, and money… lots of money. But one thing that people often do not think about is the type of music that casinos play.

Sure, some casinos host high-profile live performances, smaller live performances, and DJs, but that's not what we are talking about here. We are talking about the music that is playing in the background of the gaming floors, often unnoticed, but always essentially for gluing all the parts of the casino together into a palpable atmosphere.

In this article, we will cover a number of topics relating to what is the best kind of music to play in casinos. We will talk about the scientific properties of music and how they influence people’s behavior.

We will talk about how different kinds of music set the mood perfect for gambling, and we will talk about some of the legal considerations that casinos have to take into account to avoid copyright infringement when playing music in their establishments.

How Does Music Affect People?

Music is an ever-present phenomenon in our lives. Listening to live music is a pastime of many, while listening to music on headphones is a must for many people, whether alone in their rooms or riding public transit.

The cafes and stores we frequent are rarely silent, even if we don’t notice the music that they are playing, and marketers seem to come up with a new jingle to stick in our minds every day. But how much does music actually impact us?

What are the physiological and psychological effects of music on humans? Below we detail some of the most significant effects of music on humans, and from these descriptions, we are better able to see why music can be such a powerful tool for casinos.

1. Music fosters social cohesion and feelings of group harmony

Researchers think one of the most important functions of music is to create a feeling of cohesion or social connectedness. Music has deep roots in the human psyche and evolutionary history, and moreover, makes people feel more connected to each other and their surroundings. This simply cannot be ignored by casinos.

So much of what makes a good casino is an environment that is created between its walls. This can include glitzy furniture, well-dressed dealers, waiters and waitresses, flowing champagne, and much more. All of these factors are easy to visually identify.

However, one of the biggest factors is the music that is playing and the feeling of togetherness that it promotes. Sure, people at the poker table are trying to beat each other out, but so much of the fun of casinos comes from feeling like you and a group of behavior are engaging in this exciting (and potentially financially risky) activity of gambling.

It's important that the atmosphere of a casino fosters a feeling of togetherness, and that's just one of many reasons why music is so important for casinos.

2. Music can help elevate people’s mood

There has been so much research that shows that music can play a large role in elevating people’s moods. It won’t be a surprise to most that music can affect the human brain emotionally. We all have that one song that brings us to tears, at the same time as having a song that really pumps you up and gets you going again.

Music can have a massive effect on emotions, and that’s one of the reasons why composers add music to films – they want you to feel sad, happy, angry or scared at exactly the right time. You’ve probably chosen music yourself to evoke a particular reaction in your brain, just like when gym-goers put on a motivational playlist full of energy to get them through a workout.

All of this is, of course, backed by research that shows that music can affect our emotions in different ways. Happy, upbeat music causes our brains to produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which evoke feelings of joy, whereas calming music relaxes the mind and the body.

Casinos should take note of both of these effects of music: the ability to make people more upbeat and happy and the ability to help people feel relaxed. Later on, we will talk more about how music has been shown to reduce stress, but let's stick to these characteristics for now and show how they can influence behavior on the gaming floor and improve the patron experience, as well as the casino’s bottom line.

If casinos play music that makes patrons feel happier, then the patrons are more likely to be having a better time even if they are losing money. The happy, or at least fun, atmosphere is what so many people are looking for when they go to casinos, and if the atmosphere meets or exceeds their expectations, they will be more willing to throw down some serious cash and take their chances.

Music that relaxes people can also be good for casinos. Surely, casinos can at times become very stressful and overwhelming for people. Having some music playing to relax them will help them have a better time.

Moreover, people who are relaxed are no less ready to throw down money on a risky game than people who are not relaxed. In fact, relaxed people are more likely to be big spenders than they would be if they were anxious.

3. Music can reduce stress levels through physiological effects

Music really is one of the best stressbusters out there. The soothing power of relaxing music and its close link to our emotions can be a really effective stress management tool, helping us cool down and maybe even take a breather. It can be a great way to distract yourself from a stressful situation, while also clearing the mind before re-addressing the issue with a fresh outlook.

Listening to music has the potential to relax our minds as well as our bodies. In fact, research has shown that even heavy metal music can help lower your blood pressure. And since high blood pressure is both a cause and symptom of stress, this shows that even the most intense music can help you cope with stress.

It’s not only your blood pressure that listening to music can lower, but also lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the human stress hormone, and the higher it is, the more stressed we feel. Research has found that symphonic music can lower cortisol levels, regardless of the listener's music preferences.

As discussed above, music that helps keep people’s stress levels down will actually prove more conducive to people playing riskier games, spending more money, and ultimately benefiting the house.

4. Music can determine an atmosphere

Music can truly set an atmosphere, and not all casinos are trying to create the same type of atmosphere. Some casinos are more working class, while others project an image of sophistication and luxury, and at many times, especially later in the night, casino floors take on the characteristics of a party.

Much of what sets the tone for these places has to do with the music that is playing, though of course, the power of music could not set the atmosphere alone: drinks, staff, furniture, and other guests also play a large role.

Still, when thinking about what music to play in a casino, it is usually best to think about what kind of atmosphere you are trying to create. So what are the best kinds of music to play in casinos?

The Best Kinds of Music to Play in Casinos

1. Smooth Jazz

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. 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 that 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.

2. Big Band and 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. 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, 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 that casinos should not be afraid to use.

3. Hip Hop, Pop, and Rap

While many casinos prefer more traditional music genres to please their patrons, there are also plenty of venues that don’t shy away from more modern musical genres.

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 coveted low tempo, meaning that they won’t disturb gamblers and they won’t hurt the profits of casino operators.

It's just important to remember that no matter the genre, it's best to keep the volume of the music somewhat low so that it does not disturb the gamblers too much or break their concentration.

Beware of Copyright

Now, it is important to keep a few things in mind when choosing what music to play in your casino. There are the considerations that we have discussed above, but there are also legal considerations.

200 music and non-music channels that you can play without worrying about copyright infringement.

Making the Floor Sing

As we have discussed in this article, there are a lot of factors that casinos should consider when choosing what music to play on their floors. Slow jazz and swing are certainly the favorites of many major casinos, but other genres can find their place as well.

Just remember to keep the tempo low and the volume not too high so that it doesn't distract the customers from staying focused on gambling.