Hard Rock indigeneity : ritual and personhood in Las Vegas : a dissertation presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
The past decade has seen a boom in research dedicated to experiential design in the casino industry, focused on how that design both lures and secures the patronage of customers. However, it is my contention that there has been insufficient attention paid to the reciprocal relationship between casino and patron. Using the Mohegan Sun in Las Vegas as a case study, I discuss how that casino - which is defined by partnerships between the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, Virgin Hotels and JC Hospitality, as well as a legacy relationship with the Hard Rock franchise, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida - possesses a unique identity that informs its experiential design; an identity and design approach that is, in turn, informed by patrons. The casino space is shaped by a multitude of forces outside the purview of experiential designers, including patron's prior relationship with the space and the casino's position in the wider 'field' of Las Vegas. Using sensory ethnography, walking ethnography and autoethnographic approaches, I explore the sensory elements of both the Mohegan Sun and the wider Las Vegas landscape. It is my argument that the Mohegan Sun Las Vegas possesses its own form of personhood, borne from the capitalist forces that shape it, as well as habitus and Indigenous notions of animist personhood.
sensory ethnography, casino, gambling, ambiance, habitus of space, walking ethnography, indigenous gaming, personhood, ritual, Las Vegas