Cool Design: Here's How Casinos Take Your Money
There's no doubt the casino industry is a lucrative one. Just this September, the Las Vegas Strip brought in $504.8M, while Atlantic City's eight casinos brought in over $230M. America has gaming hubs all over, from Chicago to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, and just this summer Massachusetts entered the game with its first casino. But not all of them succeed. So, why do some casinos thrive while others falter? What choices increase profitability? Here's everything you need to know about casino design.
The old-school way of thinking was called "the gaming design." It focused on creating a dark environment that would immediately suck gamblers in. The tables and slot machines were the decor, the layout led you straight to the gambling action, lobbies featured penny slots to get customers hooked from the moment they step in the door, the ceilings were low, and there were no clocks or sunlight to mark the passage of time, so unsuspecting patrons could gamble to their hearts content. The gaming design lasted into the '90s, but then, Roger Thomas, EVP of design at Steve Wynn's Wynn Resorts, decided to take things in the opposite direction. He introduced soaring ceilings, an elegant lobby, skylights, and antique time pieces. This style is referred to as "the playground design," and has proven to be a more successful model, since it makes patrons feel at home, and a comfortable customer will spend more moolah.
Pictured: the lobby of Caesar's Palace in Vegas
Casinos are using more than just the decor to make customers feel at home. For instance, there's nothing more frustrating for a modern-day American than a dying cellphone battery while away from a charging station. The stress can cut a customer's day at the casino short really quickly. So, to help alleviate this stress, casinos are installing cellphone charging kiosks, giving customers the opportunity to safely recharge without getting distracted enough to stop spending dough. Other technologies include cashless transactions through ticket voucher systems like IGT's EZ Pay. This kind of tool is good for two reasons. As we all know with debit cards, it's easier to lose track of spending when there's no cash to visually remind you of how much you have. Additionally, cashless transactions allow casinos to collect data on the purchasing behavior of guests.
Casinos are also putting more capital into state-of-the-art electronic slot machines, and even considering an industry-wide machine that downloads gaming software so machines can be reconfigured for different games each day. This would save a lot of money needed to switch machines out or update them. And while security cameras can already spot cheaters, soon facial recognition will be able to keep track of everyone. Not only will this will provide stronger security, but it can also operate as another behavioral data collector.
Sustainability is becoming a goal for everyone, but the casino industry is one area where it's particularly useful. Casinos consume a great deal of energy, because they are operating tons of machines and lights 24/7, so anywhere they can shave off costs is a good thing. Vegas casinos can take advantage of ample sunlight by installing solar panels, while casinos across the nation use everything from LED lighting to recycled playing cards, water efficient faucets, Energy Star appliances, and eco-friendly paints. The Bellagio Hotel has a five star green rating. Likewise, a casino run by the Chumash Indians in Santa Barbara, CA, incorporated energy saving strategies from the beginning of its 2004 construction, with double-walled insulation, a reflective rooftop, and a wastewater treatment plant. Programs like Casino Green help retrofit casinos to reduce their carbon footprints.
Pictured: the Bellagio conservatory and botanical gardens
It all comes down to making customers feel at home. Casinos want to create a relaxed vibe with top-of-the-line equipment, so patrons will want to stick around and spend. It's also important to reduce costs with eco-friendly materials and energy-saving strategies. Increased security protects your casino, while some crafty new technologies to make spending money more convenient never hurt anyone...just don't tell the customers.
Pictured: the High Limit Slot Salon at Wynn Las Vegas