The following article will touch on some of the basics of casino design and layout – focusing on full casinos with tables and slots. Many of these points may seem obvious but they are worth noting, whilst others will be more obscure but nonetheless important.
The objective is to make you stop and think about your casinos.
- What first impression am I giving?
- Do we have an inviting environment?
- Are my employees easily recognizable? Do they have the right scripts to meet and greet the customers?
- Can my customers flow through the casino easily? Do they have a good view over the entire casino floor?
- Is my signage adequate? Can a new visitor find key areas of the casino without asking?
- Have I created sufficient comfort and comfort zones for my visitors?
The idea of this presentation is to walk you through your casino in the order that a customer visits.
From car park to façade, entrance, reception, casino and gaming.
In each area we will discuss the customer experience based on our design and layout.
- Parking, external security and lighting
- Casino external signage and advertising
- Reception – entrance. Only one chance at a first impression!
- Physical and Psychological barriers
- Design and Decoration
- Floor layout and customer flow
- Breakdown of the casino area
- Manager’s appearance
Parking and External Lighting
- If you have a dedicated car park under your control, then you should make sure that your parking area is well lit and free from clutter.
- This means no high bushes and no unnecessary divisions or fences.
- Anonymity and privacy – often an important factor for players.
- A clean level surface to the car park is important.
- Lighting is an important element and can be used creatively.
- If you have music in your casino some external speakers in the car park can also create an immediate atmosphere – building the expectation.
- Your external casino sign should be attractive, well lit and inviting.
- External signs need to be simple and informative.
- Using the word “Casino” leaves no doubt as to the activities within, so should be used where possible.
- If legislation does not allow this then try to be creative: Electronic gaming, slot arcade, electronic bingo etc.
- If you have a brand then make sure your logo and image is always the same – recognizable and distinguished.
- The facade of the property should be used for illuminated advertising where possible.
- Posters informing customers of promotions, events and special offers should be eye-catching and simple. Less words and a clear message or benefit.
First Impression – Entering the casino
- Ideally the customer will be greeted by the security officer and the receptionist with – “good evening and welcome” accompanied by a smile.
- All front-of-house staff should welcome your guests with simple practiced scripts.
- Internal signage should be clear – the fewer questions the customer needs to ask the better.
- It is essential that a customer’s first experience is a positive one for a number of reasons. We want them to feel relaxed and comfortable, we want them to tell their friends about us and, most importantly, we want them to return.
- A customer’s first visit will often dictate if he or she returns or not. It is our responsibility to remove all physical and psychological barriers.
Examples of Physical & Psychological Barriers
Physical barriers are only easy to overcome if you can recognize they are there! You must take the time to ‘walk through’ your casino from the outside to try to view it from a customer’s eye. Some areas to look out for are:
- External signage – is it clear? Does it indicate the exact location of the entrance? Are the operational hours visible? Are there any contact details available?
- Parking – is there a dedicated parking facility? If yes, is it well lit and secure? If no, is there parking available on the street? Is it secure? Is there a car parking valet service available?
- Security – is there sufficient lighting outside the building entrance? Are there secluded, dark areas where thieves could hide? Are there metal detectors at the entrance? If yes, are they a deterrent or a ‘feel safe’ facility? Are our security agents creating a physical barrier by their size, posture or clothing?
- Reception – is the reception desk clearly visible? Can the receptionist be seen? Does it look welcoming or intimidating? Do your receptionists speak the languages of your guests? Are the rules of entering the casino clearly shown? Are they complicated and confusing? Is there a dress code?
Psychological barriers include mainly behavioral issues. To understand these try to get the sense of how a new customer would be received in your casino – by both staff and other clients.
- Are our employees welcoming and friendly in reality?
- Are staff uniforms distinctive? Is it clear who is at supervisory level?
- Is there too much or too little light in the casino?
- Are internal signs clear (such as cash desk, bar and WC)? The fewer questions a visitor needs to ask the better.
- Is there a television showing inappropriate programs? A casino is not a place for news channels or films. Music, sports or internal advertising are the only reasons to keep a television switched on. Is the TV volume too loud? (This distracts staff as well as customers).
- Do staff members or customers look at new guests in an intimidating way?
- Is there a destination area (comfort zone) where a new guest can sit or stand comfortably whilst familiarizing himself with the surroundings?
Other Possible Barriers
Lack of Female Players?
What are the physical and psychological barriers that cause this phenomena?
- Male-oriented space – female employees encouraged to wear short skirts, flirt with clients?
- Is the casino too dark for comfort?
- Do you have the music too loud?
- Promotions aimed at men – such as “win a power drill” competition!
Understand our Innate Desires
- We all have innate desires and although they vary the top three are almost always the same.
- To be free from fear and danger
- To have food, drink and shelter
- To love and be loved
Design & Decoration
- The design and décor of any casino should be based on comfort, practicability and security. Although the aesthetics are important, these other three factors must play a leading role when deciding on the ultimate layout of the casino.
- Themed casinos will work in the right environment. For a theme to be effective it must be well thought out, topical (that is relevant to the area or to the atmosphere you want to create in the casino) and easy on the eyes. A busy theme in a small casino can look overpowering.
- Color scheme – understanding angry and soothing colors is important. Red versus green cloths on the gaming tables.
- Feng shui – at least familiarize yourself with some basics. Knowledge is power!
- The lighting of a casino is another important factor that is often overlooked by designers and operators. We want the customers’ eyes to be drawn to the gaming tables and the slot machines, not to the ceiling.
- The tables need to be well lit and free from shadows.
- The surrounding lighting should be more subdued to focus the eye on the tables.
- In a gaming room with low ceilings try to avoid individual lamps over the gaming tables as they can impair the view of the cameras.
- The slot machines are already well illuminated and should have exciting signage to compliment them. You want them to be the main focus.
- Adjust your lighting to suit your target customers. Older female customers prefer a well lit room. Males in their 30’s will be more comfortable in a darker environment. You set the mood!
- To the uninformed music in a casino is of little or no value. In reality, choosing the right music for your target customer and playing it at the correct volume can add significantly to your ‘bottom line’.
- Extensive casino research in the USA has shown that music selected from an era when your average target customer was between 18 and 25 years old, with a beat of slightly above the normal heart rate and played loud enough to drown out normal conversation has an extremely positive effect on play.
- So if your target customer is 50 years old, music should be from 1989 to 1996.
- The music system itself must provide even, good quality sound throughout the casino, at the reception and even in the car park. Live music that follows these same guidelines is also an excellent tool to draw custom and ensure the positive experience.
- Do not let your employees choose the music that they like. In my experience this is often inappropriate modern music that will not connect in any way with your target players.
The layout of your casino should consider:
- Customer flow – that is sufficient space for customers to walk around the gaming floor with easy accessibility to all areas.
- Visibility across the floor – logically upright slots near the walls and to the rear of the floor, slants and table games in a more central position to ensure a panoramic view over the entire casino.
- Comfort zones – small banks of slots or carrousels – ideally that is no more than 12 machines to a bank (6X6).
- Avoiding long lines of machines against the walls where possible. Small banks of 4 slots (2X2) sideways to the wall create much more comfortable playing areas. Nobody likes to be forced to sit with their back to the room.
- Mixed pits for tables – this allows you to open just one pit at a time according to business levels, reducing the numbers of supervisors and security required. It also allows players to jump from game to game more easily.
Objectives of the Casino Layout
- We want our players to be able to circulate freely – that means sufficient space between chairs with a central flow pattern that we create by use of passageways.
- We want customers to know where their preferred slots or tables are located using signage and intelligent spacing.
- We want to offer the player anonymity by creating secure comfort zones and privacy from other guests.
- We want to maximize the time a player spends in the casino by ensuring orientation using signage and proven time-and-motion methods. That is cash desk and customer toilets to the rear of the casino, not next to the exit.
- High ceilings can make a player feel exposed and insecure. Use of canopies, awnings and suspended ceilings will reduce this effect.
Comfort & Privacy
The restaurant example:
- In a restaurant a group of people will stay twice as long as a couple, and a couple twice as long as an individual.
- If you placed all your restaurant tables against the wall, how many customers would feel comfortable sitting facing the wall with their backs to the room?
In a casino:
- Small banks of slots that create a community spirit between players will keep individuals in the casino for longer.
- As much as 40% less play on slots against the wall has been noted on comparable slots.
- Table signage should be clear even from a distance.
- You want the player to know the minimum and maximum bet – so this needs to be clearly displayed next to the dealer or integrated into any electronic signage.
- In casinos with dual currencies you need to distinguish which pit is which.
- Low value and high value pits should be well displayed.
- Bonus games and progressive jackpots should be explained using small flyers, not large signs.
Breakdown of Space Allocation
- In many traditional European casinos no more than 60% of the public space will be dedicated to gaming.
- 40% will be for restaurant, bar and entertainment.
- The “play or pay” principle is important as you do not want dead space where people can sit and relax for free.
- In the exclusive clubs of Mayfair, London fine restaurant dining is a must.
- In most countries of Latin America almost all available space is dedicated to gaming.
- Casinos are not generally seen as entertainment venues – in short you go there to play, or you don’t go there!
- Customer circulation is of utmost importance. A badly thought-out layout which prevents customer flow and creates ‘bottle necks’ will undoubtedly lower turnover.
- Comfort at the gaming tables is fundamental. Too many gaming tables crowded together make it difficult to sit comfortably.
- Casino chairs – they need to be comfortable as well as attractive. Good back support and correct height for prolonged play is important.
- Slot bases should not be too high. Many new generation slots are very tall. If you place this on top of a full height drop box the players arm is below the play button and their line of vision below the monitor.
- In larger casinos, a stage provides the setting for live music, raffles and other forms of entertainment. In smaller casinos the stage should be movable, not fixed in one position.
- Air conditioning should be evenly spread with no direct air streams on to the tables or slots.
- Back of house areas should be shielded using double doors or subdued lighting.
The Manager’s Appearance
- Although not something you would normally include in a presentation about the casino layout, the appearance of your manager is an important part of your image.
- There are several rules that will denote what style of clothing is the most appropriate for your environment. In most semi-formal societies, the following rules will apply:
- Business suit – dark colors (not brown or tan), discreet patterns
- Ladies suits – trousers or skirts below the knee
- Shoes – black leather, well polished
- Shirts – white is a color of power, otherwise soft colors, discreet stripes
- Ladies blouses – not transparent, not too low cut
- Ties – can be bright but no cartoons or gimmicks
- Hair – neatly groomed, not a fashion statement
- Beards – neat and well trimmed
- Jewelry – watches semi formal, other items discreet; avoid too much
- Parking – secure, well lit and where possible private.
- Casino entrance – well lit, good signage and welcoming staff.
- Physical barriers – beware of security, unclear regulations and poor signage.
- Psychological barriers – try to ensure comfort, clarity and fewer focal disturbances.
- Design – consider who your target customer is to ensure correct colors, style and lighting.
- Lighting – make a feature of your tables and slots but think about the overall environment.
- Music – control the content and volume.
- Layout – set the customer flow and avoid bottle-necks.
- Space allocation – each m2 is valuable so use it wisely.
- Comfort – think about seating, temperature and privacy.
- Managers – make sure that they represent your investment.
- Please take the time to think about your casinos with respect to the player experience. Consider:
- How is your casino design and layout today?
- What would be the ideal scenario to better cater to your target customers?
- What do you need to change in order to achieve this goal?
- Not every casino can look like Bellagio or Monte Carlo, but with some small changes based on these experiences you can offer your players a more comfortable and welcoming environment.