When you think of casinos, you probably picture bright lights, dazzling sounds, dense carpeting, and a maze of slot machines and gambling tables. The way these iconic locations are designed is not haphazard or accidental.
Enterprises built on getting customers to ignore the odds and keep playing surely employ a host of functional and psychology-based methods when planning out their next big build. Brick and mortar casinos are big business, with massive budgets and legions of design consultants to create the most functional and aesthetically-pleasing spaces for optimum profit.
A brief history of casino design
One of these consultants is a man named Bill Friedman, who helped shape the way casinos of the past were designed. A recovering gambling addict, Friedman knew exactly what would work best to maximize profits for casino operators.
Friedman’s concepts included a maze-like floor plan known as the ‘Maze Layout’ which became fashionable in the 1990s after he published his book, Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition, based on 20 years of industry research.
The labyrinthine layout was meant to disorient and distract players from leaving the premises. His design standards also included low ceilings, dark interiors, and a purposeful lack of decoration around the space.
Outside of time
Nowadays, modern casino design differs quite a bit from the dark, sort of depressing visions of the past. One of Friedman’s concepts that stuck was the distinct lack of clocks on the walls.
Other than the smartphone in your pocket or handbag, when inside a casino, you’re not going to be able to tell the time of day or night. This isn’t by accident but rather, by design. Casino designers take their cues from the owners who predict that players will continue to gamble longer if they have no idea what time of day it is.
For better or worse, the two main goals of every good casino interior design are to make gamblers avoid gambling responsibly and to provide an efficient operational backend for staff members serving gamblers.
Modern casino design: the playground approach
New perspectives have come to the forefront since, however. Roger Thomas and David Kranes both revolutionized the way casinos were designed by adding windows, big open spaces, and clustering machines and tables, rather than lining them up in rows, as had been done in the past.
These new design approaches turned Friedman’s methods on their head, incorporating a welcoming environment and focusing on making players feel happy and relaxed, rather than overwhelmed and trapped.
Main components of functional casino design
Aside from customer psychology, when planning a well-laid-out casino, there are four main components that should be considered. Any casino designer or operator would consider these at the outset and in order of importance as well.
Customer safety and casino security
These are first and foremost the main considerations when planning the layout of a casino. The practicalities of customer and staff movement, location of fire exits, and ease of emergency evacuation are the top priorities of any casino operation.
Include elements like the arrangement of game tables and slot machines, strategic location of the “cage” (cash and chips repository), CCTV and lighting scheme,
Although the ‘Maze Layout’ is helpful for getting lost in the glitz and glamour of the casino, it’s pretty distracting if staff have to wind their way through the halls to perform their jobs. Casinos are built like well-oiled machines, and there’s a purpose to the placement of everything.
Casinos keep a lot of money on premises. The need to quickly and safely move money from the floor to the vault is an important factor when deciding on a layout for a casino.
Regular players may not notice, but after an Ocean’s Eleven marathon you might take a look at the layout with fresh eyes. The Cage, where players can exchange their money, is usually within a prominent spot on the floor, but also one of the most secure areas in the casino itself.
There’s nothing worse than having to end your winning streak with a trek across the entire building to find a bathroom.
As with any business, customer comfort is an important consideration. The casino business is dependent upon players coming in and having a good time at their establishment. If there aren’t enough facilities like bathrooms, restaurants, and entertainment, players will leave to go somewhere else.
The last component of casino design is the aesthetics of the layout and atmosphere inside. The interior design of a casino is an extremely important factor but should not be put before operational functionality.
For example, if elegant lighting is installed without consideration of table layout, the lights won’t be placed properly to illuminate the tables. This design flaw will also throw off CCTV arrangement, sacrificing customer safety and casino security.
Casinos are meticulous when it comes to interior design with no corner left uncovered. Having a complete view using security cameras is a must when considering the aesthetics of the casino itself and the guests.
Take a look around
Unless you happen to be an interior designer, you may not notice how these elements are planned — but next time you go to a casino, have a look around and see if you can spot how these factors all come together.