“We are doing much looser
gaming floor layouts with fewer
slot machines and lots of little
lounge spaces, beer gardens, and
areas for group activities.”
—NATHAN PEAK, HBG DESIGN
Some larger casinos dispense with a central theme altogether.
“Because our customers have varying tastes and preferences,
many of our offerings differ considerably from each other
in terms of their design and presentation,” notes Richard
Taylor, president of Niagara Casinos, a company that operates
Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara, which are both
perched alongside the massive waterfall on the Canadian side
of the border.
Taylor views this differentiation as a way to cater to multiple
client types—men, women, aging boomers, millennials—which
increasingly is important to the success of large casinos.
“It allows us to provide a host of options for our guests, based
on their preferences and tastes,” he says. The consistency
of experience, in this case, comes through maintaining the
same level of quality throughout the site. “Back-of-house
operations are handled by the same people to ensure that we
are able to provide a coordinated level of service. So, while
the surroundings may change depending on what aspect of
our resort a customer is visiting, they always will receive the
same level of care from our staff.”
In this way, the design of casino resorts differs little from
other hospitality contexts. The complexity arises largely from
combining so many elements into a single development that
has seamless transitions and feels like a cohesive whole.
Materials palettes are a major concern in casino design, not just from the perspective
of aesthetics, but durability: Casinos typically operate 24 hours-a-day, 365 days per year,
so the flooring, wall coverings, fixtures, and furnishings need to be tough as nails.
There also are exacting requirements specific to the trade. Lighting above the game tables
must be bright enough for the folks who monitor the surveillance cameras for cheaters
to see what’s going on, and the light fixtures themselves must be positioned so they
do not interfere with the cameras’ sight lines. Thomas developed chandeliers with
cameras embedded in them specifically for this purpose.
One of the most consequential decisions an interior designer will make on a casino project
is the choice of carpet; it is rare to find a casino that uses any other sort of flooring in the
gaming area. Elizabeth Bonner, creative design director at Durkan (part of the Mohawk
family of flooring companies), says carpet and casinos have a long and colorful relationship.
“The tradition is to use highly colorful and illustrative patterns on the gaming floor. It’s part
of what transports you to a different place.”
Despite various conspiracy theories relating to casino carpets—some have postulated that
wild patterns are employed to camouflage any chips that fall to the floor, which the casino
then rakes up and pockets—Bonner clarifies that the tradition actually has very practical
underpinnings. Casino floors take a beating from foot traffic and spills, so the more
convoluted the pattern, the less likely the eye is to notice stains or wear and tear. “I call
it the meatball factor, the idea that you can drop a meatball anywhere on the carpet
and you can’t see it later.”
HBG Design created a peaceful
sitting area amid gaming stations at
Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino & Hotel,
in Wetumpka, Alabama.
(Image: Jeffrey Jacobs)