If you own or manage a casino, you’re likely used to your casino’s layout and general atmosphere. But have you stepped back and considered whether your casino is employing key psychology elements of good casino design?
Some casinos were designed using outdated principles that were aimed at entrapping casino players rather than creating an environment where they stay and spend more money because they genuinely want to. A casino with the right audio, visual and lighting features can impress, excite and relax guests, all at the same time. Most importantly, successful casino design encourages game players to stick around and to come back for more fun.
The Goal of Casinos
As with any business, a casino should be designed with the business’s goals in mind. Casinos succeed by encouraging visitors to stay longer and take more risks. The longer casino players stay and gamble, the more profit the casino makes.
Nonetheless, guests should also enjoy their experience, even if they lose money. Working to make the whole experience fun and enjoyable helps to give your casino a positive reputation and encourages guests to return in the future for more gambling. So, a casino’s goal is to provide an enjoyable experience that encourages game players to spend their money repeatedly for the chance of winning big.
A casino’s design should contribute to achieving these goals. In this guide, we’ll discuss some design principles that will help your casino become a more inviting space for guests.
Traditional vs. Playground Casino Design
Until recently, most casinos were designed with maze-like layouts that encouraged casino players to stay and keep gambling. These traditional casino designs have complicated, tightly-packed arrangements of games and purposefully obscure exits, making it difficult for someone to find their way out when they are ready to go. Traditional casinos with a “gaming design” or “Friedman-esque design” also tend to have dark color schemes, low ceilings and no windows near the gaming area, effectively blocking out the outside world.
Avoiding natural light and making it easy to get lost go directly against typical goals of design, which prioritize openness and wayfinding. But for casinos, these typical goals were overridden by the goal of encouraging guests to keep gambling. The goal to keep the focus on the games also means traditional casinos do not include much décor outside of the slot machines themselves.
The traditional gaming design can still be seen in many casinos. However, in recent years, a new type of casino design has emerged. Roger Thomas is credited with spearheading this innovative design style, known as playground design. He has continued to design Las Vegas hotels and casinos with and for Steve Wynn.
The Bellagio hotel, which opened in 1998, was the first shining example of playground design. With it, Thomas and Wynn cast aside the typical rules that governed casino design and instead sought to create an inviting and glamorous space, one that wouldn’t entrap guests but would instead encourage them to stay and spend more because they are enjoying the experience and the environment.
They took a gamble by going against the norm, but it paid off because it appealed to guests. In fact, the Bellagio generated more profits than any other single property in Vegas history, and not because of its size. Per guest room, the Bellagio brought in four times the average amount of revenue for hotels in Las Vegas.
So, what is different about the playground design style initiated by Thomas? It appeals to human psychology by creating an environment where guests feel more free and indulgent. Rather than dark, maze-like environments, casinos with a playground design are well-lit and more open. Rather than rejecting decor, these casinos include luxurious and unique design elements such as fountains, sculptures, florals and more.
Thomas bet on human psychology and the fact that people’s attitudes mimic their environment. This is why a rich, glamorous and comfortable space is sure to have people reaching for their wallets and is more likely to keep a smile on their face as they do it, even if they lose a lot of money. According to Kara Findlay, a professor of gambling behavior, the data clearly demonstrates that, compared to traditional casinos, playground casinos effectively encourage guests to stay longer, bet and lose more money, leave feeling better and return more frequently.
How Audio, Lighting and Visual Affects Casino Players
When you’re considering the design of any facility or space, there are many things to consider, from the ceiling to the carpet. Every detail of your casino will affect the atmosphere guests experience. One critical category to consider is your casino’s audio, lighting and visual (AVL) features.
Audio systems are necessary for any casino. What we hear can be a powerful stimulus, especially when it comes to music. Consider the difference a single song can make in your mood. Casinos can take advantage of music’s ability to set the right tone by employing a distributive sound system to play music for everyone in the casino to hear. In one study, participants said they would gamble longer in a playground casino design if music were playing.
Since the sounds of slot machines encourage game players to take more risks when they hear someone else win, the music in your casino shouldn’t be so loud that it drowns them out. Background music should be just that — in the background. Music should be audible but not overpowering. The sound level is also important to avoid a sensory-overload experience for gamblers, since this can lead to stress rather than the positive, more relaxed feelings the playground casino is meant to impart.
In addition to the sound levels, there is also the question of what a casino should play. This largely depends on the casino’s theme and the type of feelings you want to evoke. Vintage tracks work well when you want guests to feel a sense of old Hollywood glamor, for instance. Some casinos choose an eclectic playlist that features popular songs from over the years. When guests hear a song they love, it can stir up positive energy and even make them feel lucky.
Some casinos choose to feature live music using a performance audio system. A live band can make for an even more enjoyable experience and encourage gamblers to stick around longer. The same guidelines apply, however, concerning sound levels. Consulting with audio engineers is a helpful way to implement the best sound systems and strategies for audio to enhance your casino’s environment.
Another powerful sensory stimulus any casino should consider is lighting. Roger Thomas recognized the importance of light, which is why playground casinos invite light in rather than keeping it out. Thomas recalls that Steve Wynn wanted lighting that was more aligned with people’s natural preference. Wynn noted that people don’t go to dark places on vacation. First and foremost, a playground casino should be well-lit, but there are other aspects of lighting to consider, such as colors and fixture types.
Colored light can, in some cases, help you achieve a certain effect. Because colors are associated with certain mental and emotional responses, you can influence the attitude of your guests through color. We also have cultural associations with color that can play in. For example, arranging your light fixtures, so light reflects off of a gold surface in the room, is sure to give everything around it a luxurious, opulent feel.
The type of lights in a casino can also influence the casino’s overall design and the experience game players have in the space. Some lights are purely functional, meant to illuminate the space or provide task lighting to specific areas, while other lights are purely decorative in nature. Since lighting is an important aspect of any casino, why not choose light fixtures that add to the overall feel? For example, a casino going for old-world luxury may want a large chandelier as a focal point.
The key is to be intentional about your lighting choices. A casino’s lighting should be one aspect of how they achieve the atmosphere they are seeking to create. For some, the casino atmosphere may be more energetic, with plenty of flashing and colored lights. For others, it may be more soothing with plenty of natural light and beautiful light fixtures. A casino lighting design expert can help you achieve the right look and can also help ensure there are no issues of glare or shadows that cause problems for security cameras.
Lighting is one aspect of visual sensory input in a casino, but it isn’t the only one. There are countless other aspects of visual design that play into creating the right environment. Visual media is another way you can shape the environment to help accomplish your goals. Video screens in the casino can add to the design and can play functional roles.
On a practical level, video screens can be used to help with digital advertising. In other words, video screens can share various messages and inform guests of upcoming events, such as live music, or other nearby attractions. Game machines themselves often include screens, so gamblers are used to seeing screens all around them. Therefore, digital advertising screens must be strategically placed where they are likely to be seen and not crowded out by gaming screens.
Video screens can also be used to enhance gaming tables or to facilitate sports betting in states where it has been legalized. Since younger generations especially are used to gaming that involves the latest technology, modern casinos are embracing the use of up-to-date digital media to enhance the gaming experience.
Visual media can also be used to create artistic focal points in a room. A video wall provides an innovative means of creating impressive displays that can be changed at will. This medium also allows for visuals that are in motion. As with other design features we’ve discussed, however, it’s important to strike the right balance of creating an impressive, luxurious feel without overwhelming guests. Playground casinos should always be restorative. Visual media experts can help you effectively incorporate video as part of a successful casino design.
How to Improve Casino Design
You may already be thinking of ways the right AVL can help you capitalize on effective casino design psychology. Overall, as you look for ways to improve your casino’s design, aim for a space that is:
- Cohesive: Every aspect of your casino’s design should coordinate seamlessly to create the immersive environment you’re aiming for. You won’t create this cohesive feel by accident. In fact, many AVL systems fall short in this respect. You need every aspect of your AVL system to fit together to provide the sensory experience that will keep guests coming back.
- Interactive: Your casino should also be engaging and interactive. The right visuals and music can make for an engaging, exciting environment. Consider if there are any ways you can make your casino more interactive for guests. Audiovisual technology, in particular, can help you create a more interactive space for casino players.
- Realistic: If you’re already incorporating audiovisual technology into your casino’s design, consider whether these visuals are realistic and up-to-date with modern technology. Guests enjoy video walls, for example, with crisp, clear pictures. This level of realism is impressive and adds to the immersive experience.
If your casino’s AVL systems are detracting from the atmosphere or simply not adding anything, it’s time for an update. You can take advantage of everything a great AVL system has to offer to upgrade your casino and start impressing guests today.
Enhance Your Casino AVL With Illuminated Integration
Especially if your casino is located in an area where you have plenty of competition, you need to find ways to create a space that rivals some of the most successful casinos out there. These casinos have found success by throwing off old notions of casino design and abiding by new principles that focus on creating an enjoyable, liberating experience for casino players.
The right audio, lighting and visual media can help any casino win big. The perfect casino atmosphere will impress, excite and restore your guests, so they can keep on playing, and you can keep growing profits.
For AVL consulting services and installations, consider working with Illuminated Integration. With experience in the themed entertainment space, we are the ideal partner for casinos. Our team has the expertise and creativity to help you take your casino to the next level with the right audio systems, camera systems, video walls and lighting. Contact us today to learn more.