Casinos, everywhere, may find themselves ducking for cover thanks to a new study which posits that they use clever displays, vibrant lights, and catchy jingles to rig the decision-making processes players rely on when making bets. New findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggest that by tapping into the sensory feedback loops of gamblers, casinos can guide players away from rational decision-making centered on making winnings bets and towards riskier play styles that produce higher profits.

The idea that casinos may be tricking certainly isn’t new, but the study explores the sensory features that casinos rely upon to influence player’s decision-making, illustrating just how rigged the odds were all along.

From rats to humans

Researchers originally discovered, when testing on lab rats, that the rodents in question were eager to take increased risks, in order to snag a tasty food reward for themselves, when such risks were accompanied by flashy lights and audible jingles. Realizing that these conditions weren’t dissimilar to those of modern casinos, researchers at the University of British Columbia expanded their efforts to 100 adults playing laboratory gambling games, only to find similar results.

According to researchers, casinos can employ flashy lights and dizzying jingles that consume so much of the player’s attention that they find it impossible to focus on important information needed to win the game.

“Using eye-tracker technology, we were able to see that people were paying less attention to information about the odds of winning on a particular gamble when money imagery and casino jingles accompanied the wins,” the study’s senior author told Neuroscience News.

Dilated eyes

The study’s authors also discovered that the eyes of the players in question were heavily dilated when gambling in games that included lights, indicating such online betting games may more easily snag user interest.

When removing these sensory clues from the gaming environment, the study’s authors discovered that players made much sounder bets that were substantially less likely to backfire.

“While sound and light stimuli may seem harmless, we’re now understanding that these cues may bias attention and encourage risky decision-making,” the study’s authors concluded to Neuroscience News.

According to data, Americans lost a whopping $116.9 billion when gambling just in 2016 alone. Though the United States saw the greatest net losses from gambling that year, it was ultimately bested by Australia, Singapore, Ireland, and Finland for total losses per resident adult.