Casino Designer: Every Detail Serves a Purpose

Paul Steelman has designed casinos and resorts from Las Vegas to Macau. If you think that the ability of the giants in the casino world to bowl you over and drain you of your greens is random, think again.

Steelman is the president of Steelman Design Companies. He is the person behind the company that, through design, draws in the 'cash' from 'cashino'. "We look at every square foot," he says. "Especially the power space --the ground floor space. Every square foot has to make some money. And if not, then it has to energize the spaces that are in fact required to make money."

It is one thing to draw people in, and another to keep them in. "One of the things we try to do is peak the curiosity for exploration," he said. "We don't like straight lines. We want you walking on curved paths, exploring nooks and crannies. To say, 'Wow!' or 'I'm empowered to gamble.'"

"Now, how do we empower you? With ceiling heights, people, relationships to people, relationships to people watching people, relationships of people watching people losing because it's more impressive. ... In seven-year cycles, casino managers will renovate 100 percent of their space. They want things bigger, better but not necessarily to capture the latest trend or hot movie theme."

One of the commandments of casino design is avoiding the color blue. "If we put blue, everybody looks blue. That's bad," he said. Another is avoiding the use of mirrors. Steelman explains that one of the objectives of casinos is to keep its patrons in the power-zone, or call it an invincibility zone if you may. This means that if the customer feels like he's superman, he will bet like superman. "(with mirrors around) If you look at yourself, the fantasy is over. You're no longer James Bond, you're fat, your glasses are crooked. You're out of the empowerment zone."

Its all about the empowerment, and more empowerment comes with the elimination of confusion. While conventional thinking may dictate to bottle in customers by confusing them on where to exit, Steelman does otherwise and makes it as convenient as possible.

Even in bet-free areas, everything still has a reason. "Furniture very important," said Steelman. "The ergonomic qualities, the stools, position of buttons, the slots in the toe-base, and focused grouped. Years ago we designed a bingo table. We spent $100,000 making prototypes and when all 12 little ladies booked the tables in advance they said build me 1400 of those."

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Casino Designer: Every Detail Serves a Purpose


Casino designer Paul Steelman explains the psychology behind some of the practices in casino design. According to him, every square foot is a money making venture.



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