Sublime Spaces: The Art and Science of Casino Design

Across the globe, casinos are some of the most recognisable and iconic structures in existence. Unsurprisingly, a huge amount of time, effort – and money – go into the creation of a successful casino. From the exterior and the décor to the internal layout, everything in the casino design needs to encourage players not only to come but to stay. 

Let’s delve a little deeper into what it takes to make a truly great casino. We’ll take a look at the changing aesthetic, how floors have changed, and shine a light on some casino design myths to see if there’s any truth in them.

Through the Doors

What’s outside may lure you in, but it’s what’s through the doors that will persuade you to stay. The exterior is all art, and limited only by imagination and physics, but the interior layout is where the science comes in. Past wisdom favoured a labyrinthine floor plan, with the intent of disorienting players and making it difficult for them to find their way out. This was coupled with a couple of tricks – no clocks or natural daylight – designed to make customers lose track of time. 

These days, such deceitful practices are being replaced with an altogether friendlier approach. Rather than trapping players in a perpetual maze, these modern casinos strive to create a space that people actively want to stay in. High ceilings with natural light, tasteful and eye-catching decoration, and a spacious floor with clusters of slot machines rather than the old rows; all these combine to make a welcoming and relaxing room. This has been found to be a much more effective way of making people play more and longer, which is of course what the casino wants.

Incidentally, the newer approach was something that the creators of online casinos sussed out right from the start. All the best casino sites provide a user-friendly interface, with a pleasing aesthetic to encourage players to stay. Have a look here for more on how casino sites try to optimise the player experience.

Classic to Modern

The casino design archetype is old-school glamour, and indeed most of the buildings that likely spring to mind are in the classical mode. Grand facades, ornately decorated, chandeliers – these are casinos straight out of a Bond movie. Las Vegas in particular excels at this kind of structure, going all the way back to the early days and continuing to the present. Notable examples are the faux Greco-Roman edifice that is Caesars Palace, and the Venetian with its life-size replicas of Venice’s most famous landmarks.

Vegas may still enjoy extravagant glamour – witness the Palazzo, which opened its doors in 2008 – but elsewhere casino design has gone in bold new directions. Travel east to Macau and witness the futuristic fairytale that is the Gran Lisboa, or the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore which resembles a landing dock for an alien spacecraft. The designers can really flex their creative muscle with a casino, and it seems like every new building outshines the last in vision and spectacle.

Fact or Fiction?

There are plenty of stories about how casino design uses subliminal tricks to encourage people to play more – but how much truth is in them? One perplexingly odd feature of many casinos is the truly hideously-patterned carpet. This phenomenon is so widespread that many theories have been put forward as to the true reason for such poor taste. One is that the loud designs effectively hide dropped chips, so the casino can sweep them up later. Another suggests that they simply encourage players to keep looking up and at the games – and will thus be tempted to play more. None of this really makes sense, and the truth is probably something much more mundane; the patterns help hide stains from spilled drinks.

Another myth was that some casinos pump in pure oxygen, to energise customers and keep them awake for longer. This one can be firmly filed under the fiction category, as doing so would be illegal and potentially dangerous. One thing that casinos do fess up to is pumping in pleasant smells. This one has science behind it, as studies suggest that people spend more when they are exposed to certain aromas. Which scents they use, however, remains a closely-guarded secret. 


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BDC 309 : Oct 2023