Using the Panoscope method, Finlay compared the mental eﬀects of classic casinos, with low ceilings and a mazelike layout, to those of casinos designed by Thomas. Subjects surrounded by footage of Thomas’s interiors exhibited far higher levels of what Finlay terms mental “restoration”—that is, they were much more likely to say that the space felt like a “refuge” and reduced their stress level. They also manifested a much stronger desire to gamble. In every Panoscopic matchup, gamblers in Thomas’s rooms were more likely to spend money than those in Friedmanesque designs. Although subjects weren’t forced to focus on the slot machines, the pleasant atmosphere encouraged them to give the machines a try.
Finlay refers to Thomas’s environments as “adult playgrounds,” since they provide an atmosphere in which people are primed to seek pleasure. “These casinos have lots of light and excellent way-ﬁnding,” she told me. “They make you feel comfortable, of course, but they also constantly remind you to have fun.”
…Thomas’s designs have a particularly marked effect on those guests who normally don’t gamble. The seduction of his décor, perhaps, is that it doesn’t feel like a gambling environment. The beauty is a kind of anesthesia, distracting people from the pain of their inevitable losses.
I just noticed exactly this from my trip yesterday to the newer complexes. While I felt no temptation to gamble, I found them far more pleasant than the traditional casinos, and if I were going to gamble, I would do it there. My refuge I found in Jose Andres’s restaurant China Poblano (in the Cosmopolitan), which I recommend if you are also here for the APEE meetings.