Casinos Architecture Design Guide, Gambling Establishment Décor, Property

Architectural Design of Casinos

27 Sep 2019

What’s Behind the Architectural Design of Casinos? Read on….

Whether a person is playing in a brick and mortar gambling establishment or an online gambling site, everybody dreams of winning a progressive jackpot. But did you ever take time to think about the décor and architecture of gambling establishments? There are two major philosophies for gambling architecture: Friedman “Designing Casinos to Dominate Competition” and Roger Thomas the “Playground Design”.

Architectural Design of Casinos by Bill Friedman

Friedman developed 13 principals of architecture design. Let’s see how Friedman and Thomas differ.

Bill Friedman:

The classic casino design comes from Bill Friedman, who was a professor who taught about casino management at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

“The only relevant consideration for casino design are these: What percentage of visitors gamble? What percentage return to gamble? Nothing else matters.”

Roger Thomas:

Thomas believed that the traditional layout of casinos, Bill Friedman’s design, made no sense. He believed that the players felt overwhelmed or confused. Thomas supported a more open approach to Casino design.

Principal 1: A Physically Segmented Casino beats a Completely Open Barn


Friedman was against the “open barn” plan, which he defined as any space with an expansive layout and high ceilings.


Thomas created soaring ceilings with an expansive layout and high ceilings. The high ceilings were swathed in silk fabric. Thomas felt that the closed style of Friedman’s casinos suffocated the guests.

Principal 2: Gambling Equipment Immediately Inside Casino Entrances Beats Vacant Areas


Friedman called for gambling equipment immediately inside casino entrances with the most popular slot machines by the front door.


Thomas, however, imagined an elegant lobby, not filled with penny slots, but displaying a massive Dale Chihuly glass sculpture suspended from the ceiling and huge arrangements of real flowers.

Principal 3: Short Lines of Sight Beat Extensive Visible Depth


Friedman supported the idea that in every direction what the user saw was an immediate machine to play. The customer could never get a full view of the whole casino.

Take a look at Gambletribe


Thomas insisted on a clear line of sightlines for easy navigation. Thomas felt that the short sightlines of the Friedman design tended to suffocate the customer.

Principal 4: The Maze Layout beats Long, Wide, Straight Passageways and Aisles


The maze layout beats long, wide, straight passageways and aisles. This leads to the customer always running into a machine or gambling activity to play.


Thomas supported clear lines of sight defined by areas. Thomas wanted a more open atmosphere which allowed the customer to be relaxed and comfortable while gambling.

Principal 5: A Compact and Congested Gambling-Equipment Layout beats a Vacant and Spacious


Friedman supported the compact congested gambling equipment, where everywhere you turned you ran into a gambling machine or activity.


Thomas felt that this type of layout suffocated the gambler, which prevented the gambler from feeling relaxed while gambling.

Principal 6: An Organized Gambling-Equipment Layout With Focal Points of Interest beats a Floor Layout That Lacks a Sense of Organization


Friedman felt that gambling equipment should be the focal point of the gambling establishment.


Thomas felt that there should be themes in the gambling layout. That it should more than just the gambling machines.

Principal 7: Segregated Sit-Down Facilities Beat Contiguous Ones


Friedman liked his casinos to feel congested and compact. Segregated areas help to make the facility feel congested and compact.


Thomas believed in a more open approach so that customers don’t feel the anxiety about being in tight spaces.

Principle 8: Low Ceilings beat High Ceilings


Low ceilings beat high ceilings. In Friedman’s design, the ceilings are low, because it adds to the feeling of crowdedness.


Thomas supported high ceilings that provided a sense of openness. Thomas did not want customers to feel anxiety in a crowded environment, but he felt that the high ceilings gave a sense of elegance to the facility.

Principal 9: Gambling Equipment As the Decors beats Impressive and Memorable Decoration


Gambling equipment as the décor beats impressive and memorable decorations. There is little decor outside of the tables and machines. Friedman insisted on the best furniture was the gambling equipment.


“People tend to take on the characteristics of a room,” Thomas said. “They feel glamorous in a glamorous space and rich in a rich space. And who doesn’t want to feel rich?” Thomas selected European style furnishings chosen with scrupulous care.

Principal 10: Standard Decor beats Interior Casino Themes


Even though the exterior of the strip in Vegas showed hotels in a variety of themes, but on the inside, they all had the same theme — a casino based theme.


Thomas felt that the interior of a casino hall should also have themes.

Principal 11: Pathways Emphasizing the Gambling Equipment beat the Yellow Brick Road


Pathways emphasizing the gambling equipment beats the yellow brick road. The layout somehow always leads you back to the casino.


This goes back to the whole maze vs open approach.

Principal 12: Perception beats Reality


Friedman did not want any clocks inside the gambling hall or any windows. He wanted the customer to lose all sense of time.


Thomas believes in decorating gambling halls with antique timepieces and skylights that let in the desert sun.

Principal 13: Multiple Interior Settings and Gambling Ambiances beat a Single Atmosphere Throughout


Multiple playing environments create several different gambling ambiances within the casino that will appeal to a great diversity of players. They allow players to move to different settings within one casino.


Thomas believes in decoration beyond the gambling theme.


So the next time that you are visiting a physical casino or even an online casino, try to figure out if the casino is following the philosophy of Friedman or Thomas – who’s the “winner”?.

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