The beginnings of casinos date back thousands of years, despite what many may think. The first casino (Casino di Venezia) was opened in Venice in 1638 to house the games held during carnivals. However, the word “casino” was not coined until the 19th century, when these constructions began to be replicated throughout Europe.
Originally, the constructions were colossal, resembling real palaces. Their purpose was to attract gamblers belonging to the upper classes of European society. The advance of time and the change of habits and realities accompanied the architecture and design of these buildings. At the beginning of the 20th century they began to be built in the United States, specifically in Las Vegas, a city that to this day attracts gamblers from all over the world.
From that sumptuous and palatial spirit that flooded them in their European beginnings, flaunting luxury and opulence, the casinos underwent some changes in their designs that accompanied the customs and tastes of their visitors. At the end of the 20th century, a group of Las Vegas designers felt it was time for a change and implemented what is known today as “labyrinth design“.
The aim of this new design was to ensure that gamblers were quickly absorbed into the facility and “forced” to spend more time there. How was this achieved? The slot machines were arranged in circles or semicircles, and no longer in rows as in the past. This was in addition to the absence of windows and clocks inside the halls, which contributed to the loss of the sense of time.
The rise of open spaces
When the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century started, this type of design was revised to better adapt it to the psyche and taste of the current attendees. It was then agreed that the spaces should be more open and allow the combination of play areas with playgrounds. This was done, and the results were extremely positive.
The high-end casinos in Las Vegas began to implement the new designs to great public acclaim. The spaces became larger and brighter, and the ceilings were raised even higher. The machines were now grouped in smaller numbers and the players had more free space to move from one group to another. The game became more relaxed.
Segmenting the different types of attendees
But not everyone who attends a casino has the same objective. And those who design its interiors know this. So they structure the space and the location of the tables and slot machines according to three types of attendees: those who just want to spend some time playing the machines, those who want to dodge them to play at the casino tables, and those who pass through on their way to stay at the hotel that houses it.
If there is one thing that plays a decisive role in the design of a casino, it is the layout of the slot machines. These are, without a doubt, the ones that generate the greatest attraction among the public. If in the 1970s they represented around 40% of a casino’s revenue, today they can be over 70%. That is why their distribution and the space they occupy is so important.
Table games and their location
Ironically, nothing in casino design is left to chance. The most traditional and emblematic table games such as roulette, poker or blackjack also have a special location for specific reasons. They are usually grouped together in a central space in the casino. This is because they are not targeted by casual gamblers, and those who prefer them will know to head straight for where they are. It also creates a contagious atmosphere among them.
Casinos have evolved a lot from their beginnings in 17th century Europe to the present day. Their architecture and design have evolved in line with historical, social and economic changes. Today, it is the behaviour and psychology of the attendees that is closely observed in order to introduce changes and optimise profits. The advent of increasingly popular online casinos is likely to require thinking about adaptations for ever more demanding players.