Hidden in the dark: dim ambient lighting increases game play duration and total spend

Jasmina Ilicic, Stacey M. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It has been suggested that much like commercial environments (e.g., retailing), the situational characteristics of gambling environments form an important determinant of gambling behavior. However, no research has examined whether ambient lighting in gaming venues can have unintended consequences in terms of gambling behavior. The results of three experimental laboratory studies show that game play duration and total spend increase when ambient lighting is dim (vs. bright). Process evidence suggests that this phenomenon occurs as ambient lighting influences risk-taking, which in turn increases game play duration and total spend. Further, evidence is provided that the effect of dim (vs. bright) ambient lighting reduces risk-taking and subsequent game play duration and total spend when an individual’s self-awareness is facilitated (i.e., screening between gaming machines is removed). This research has implications in terms of public policy regarding the determination of minimum lighting levels in venues as a means to decrease gambling-related harm. Moreover, while gaming venues can use these insights and their ambient lighting switches to nudge individuals toward reducing their game play duration and total spend, gambling-afflicted consumers can opt for gambling venues with bright ambient lighting and those without screened gaming machines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-350
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ambient lighting
  • Gambling
  • Game play duration
  • Risk-taking
  • Self-awareness
  • Total spend

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