Music has always played a huge part in shaping the casino industry. In the modern era, the close relationship between casinos and music was first established in the 1930s, which was when Las Vegas started developing into a gaming mecca. Nevada’s decision to allow casinos in 1931 was the spark that lit the fuse. And it was live music
that kept this fire going.
Las Vegas’ Golden Era
When underground casino owners started building Vegas’ first luxurious casino-hotels, they also made sure to hire live bands and orchestras to play at the casinos every night. Casinos were filled to capacity and there were more available gigs than there were musicians in Vegas. Ultimately, this was what led to a golden era for the American music industry in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In casinos like the Sahara, swing legend Louis Prima and R&B saxophonist Sam Butera debuted their one-of-a-kind ensemble. Combining Prima’s swing standards with Butera and his band’s New Orleans-inspired jazz and R&B, the result was an exhilarating live sound with a decidedly rock ‘n’ roll attitude. Meanwhile, at the Tropicana Hotel, lucky fans were treated to live performances by jazz icon Louis Armstrong. Even though Armstrong – who had just signed with ABC Records – was busy with recording sessions, he couldn’t resist the opportunity of playing live gigs during Vegas’ heyday.
The same can be said for Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Las Vegas Boulevard Symphony, and the many other legendary acts that became synonymous with Sin City. As casinos grew in popularity through live music, entire genres and sub-genres rose to prominence and fell into obscurity under the city’s neon lights. In the golden days of Las Vegas, the marriage between casinos and live music was a passionate,
blooming affair. Even as the lights for the biggest live performances died down, casino owners were brainstorming new ways to keep the music going at their venues.
The Vegas Residency
Nowadays, residencies have stabilized the marriage between music and casinos. The now-coveted Vegas residency is basically an agreement between an artist and a major casino, detailing predetermined dates for several months – sometimes even for a year.
It’s a phenomenon that started with none other than the King himself, Elvis Presley.
From New Orleans jazz singer Louis Prima to contemporary stars like Lady Gaga, Drake, and Gwen Stefani, the Vegas residency has been responsible for maintaining the presence of great musical talents in the world’s biggest casinos. It’s not uncommon for even smaller casinos around the world to create similar programs or just book independent musicians to play live gigs. Even bands with niche followings like Texas-based Blacktop Mojo have been known to play small casinos. But while brick-and-mortar establishments started the trend of bringing casinos and
music together, there’s a relatively new but rapidly growing player in the game. In the digital era, the online casino has started to take a larger market share. And online casino providers are expanding the use of music with gaming.
Music in Digital Online Casinos
Online casinos are accessible through smartphones, tablets, and just about any other computer with a web browser. While physical casinos rely on slot machines, piped-in music, and expensive live performers, online casinos simply include music in their digital games. Along with several other factors, this has helped the global online casino industry grow to its current market size, which according to Statista is now estimated at $227 billion.
The use of music in online casinos can be observed in practically any online casino gaming experience. Notably, this has helped in bringing new and innovative digital casino games to the fore. On prominent gaming website Foxy Bingo, the increasingly popular Slingo format which combines digital slot machines and bingo uses music to attract players from prominent fandoms. Slingo FRIENDS which is based on the hit ‘90s show employs a soundtrack with a similar vibe to The Rembrandt’s I’ll Be There
For You – a song that became synonymous with the show. This illustrates how not just specific songs but even genres – in this case, ‘90s alternative rock – are still shaping how casinos do business and influence their patrons.
In the past, the same song and vibe was used by the Bellagio Casino in Vegas to stage a FRIENDS-themed show at their iconic fountains. They even set up a Central Perk couch in front of the fountains as the song played in the background, giving fans the unique experience of stepping into a faux version of the FRIENDS intro sequence. From land-based to online casinos, today’s gaming platforms are largely shaped by the cultures of the generations they want to reach. And those cultures are defined by
their taste in music. As casino gaming continues to develop with the times, music will continue to play a large role in shaping the casino experience.