Since the dawn of the first legal casino, the design and architecture of the casino has always been fascinating and interesting. I guess, the most fascinating aspect to casino architecture is the intense level of psychology that goes into the construction and design. In the past, casinos were dark, smoky areas that were characterised by artificial light, neon flashes and an absence of windows. But, the casino industry has long moved on since then. In recent times, architects like Roger Thomas are slowly changing old designs with more modern features to attract a ‘new age’ audience.
Nowadays, architects balance the requirement for a space large enough to house a new vast array of gambling and entertainment facilities with the need not to overwhelm the visitor. But let’s face it, past or present, casino construction uses a certain amount of psychology to lure players in, but also to keep them there once they’ve walked in the door. So essentially, casino design is an intricate process that involves optimising floor plan, décor and atmospherics to encourage consumer gambling.
Out with the ‘Old’ and in with the ‘New’
Windowless Walls ‘vs.’ Natural Sunlight
In the past, casino architecture is classically designed to have as few windows as possible, creating a closed cave-like environment, where night and day cannot be distinguished. This is a modest, yet effective tactic designed to keep players from realizing how late it’s getting. This combine that with an obvious absence of clocks, which takes away all measures of time. Might as well keep putting money in the slots, right?
But recently, famous casino designer Roger Thomas was credited with implementing the first successful, disruptive design for the Las Vegas Wynn Resorts’ casinos in 2008. He broke casino design convention by designing natural sunlight. Thomas inserted skylights and antique clocks, defying the commonplace notion that a casino should be a timeless space.
The Maze ‘vs.’ the Playground
In the past, casino designers widely adopted a theory known as the maze layout. The psychology was that a casino should quickly suck a player in, and then make it incredibly difficult to leave. The maze theory was broadly adopted and quickly entered into the tradition of ‘Vegas pop culture’. This is why there are no clocks, on the walls and no windows in casinos, it was often said, this tactic was used to keep the player confused about the time. Although, the maze design could be seen as the best layout, with slot machines arranged not in neat rows (as they were in the 1960s), but rather in haphazard curving arcs. When a player wants to leave the casino, they would have spent several minutes finding their way out, and with any luck dropping a few extra cash into slot machines or tables along the way. The predominant ideas of the maze design was that the exits are hidden, and no matter where a player is standing, he/she should see a variety of gaming machines or tables.
In present times, the casino layout theory had its first major modification. The low ceilings of the past were raised to the sky (often with the sky literally painted on them), and the maze concept was replaced with sculptures, sunlight, and wide boulevards leading to the gaming tables. Known as the playground concept, this concept has turned the casino from a place of confusion and apprehension into a high-end palace where players could feel comfortable and excited, surrounded by luxury in every direction. Casinos today have advanced into an inviting luxurious experience – the kind of place where you don’t mind spending money even if you know the odds are really not in your favor. Research has shown, that the playground design has proven incredibly successful with encouraging players to gamble. Therefore, modern casino designers have learnt a more powerful psychological lesson along the way. Players who are in a comfortable and lavish environment will be much more excited when they win, and more understanding when they lose. But most importantly, it will convince the player to bet more.
The playground design creates a ‘Fantasy’, which is a particularly important part of the casino ambiance. Psychologist David Canter suggests, that casinos are designed as places where players can allow themselves to be “swallowed up”. The gaudy décor and effervescent lighting may seem excessive, but casinos offer an “Alice in Wonderland” escapism.
The use of colour
Casinos tend to make extensive use of the colour red and blue, while avoiding drab, dull or mundane colours such as brown. A careful consideration is the fact that bright colours can confuse as well as stimulate the players. Although in recent times, designers try to avoid this, by limiting their colour palette and ensuring, that carpets feature large patterns in a single colour rather than an explosion of different shades.
While much has changed, some elements do remain the same!
- Impulse control behavior
Just like local groceries stores that place ‘impulse buy’ items like chocolate bars or packets of sweets just before the checked out counter, casinos use a similar form of psychology to attract you to spend more on the machines or tables. Have you ever noticed, the sweet shops or bathrooms are never easily accessible? They are located in the least likely locations, compelling players to walk past dozens of attractive games with luring music.
- The complex casino design
A casino design serve the needs of thousands of visitors every day, from confused newcomers to frequent gamblers looking to play high-stakes table games for hours. It is important for designers to take the approach of segmenting all the possible players they might attract, and try creating a design that works for all of them. There are three possible identify primary customers:
- High-rollers who want to bypass slot machines and other distractions.
- The casual gamer passing by on the street who are looking primarily for the comfort of slots.
- Hotel guests who frequently pass through the casino on the way to their room.
The guiding principles of casino design is all about creating an experience – a journey. A typical casino design will include curved pathways which offers direction, yet encourages players to explore what lies beyond the curve.
In recent times, some players still enjoy the thrill of playing at an actual casino, but many players enjoy having their casino gaming experience in the comfort of their own home. If you are that ‘player’, you will like our post on how to make the most of your online casino experience, click here to read!