Do you remember your first experience at a casino? For some, it is a bit dazzling at first, where do you look; to the serious looking card tables, the circled players at the roulette wheels or to the flashy machines, lined up one after the other?
However, after you take it all in, you start to feel the palatial structure of the design. From the colours used, to the decorative furnishing and brilliant lighting, in coming here you are treating yourself to the glamor of being in a casino. It is thrilling to look around and see what is going on, and then you may take a chance at one of the games to see whether it is your lucky day.
Throughout history, there have been games of chance, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to Elizabethan England to Napoleonic France. However there were never any official venues or houses where people specifically went to gamble; that is, until in 1638 when the first legal gambling house was opened in Venice. This casino was called Il Ridotto, the word “casino” coming from the Italian for “Little house”.
Il Ridotto was one of the wings of the Palazzo Dandolo, which now serves as a five star palatial hotel. The casino was meant to entertain the people who came to see the Venetian carnival. Along with gambling facilities, meals were provided and there was music and dancing. There was a dress code for visitors and an etiquette they had to abide by.
The Il Ridotto finally had to be closed after pressure from the church to make gambling illegal and after that casinos would not return to Europe until the 19th century.
In the past, casinos were designed with several tricks to keep gamblers playing. These included making them boxed in without any windows and not displaying any clocks - so as to keep visitors unaware of the time. The furnishing and placement of the tables and machines were also laid out in a maze to keep visitors in the casino for longer, in the hope that they might spend more money on their way out.
Modern design is more focused on assuring a premium gambling experience for visitors. The high ceilings and ornate decorations boasts the wealth of the casino, while pleasing aromas and well lit rooms have become a standard fixture. The lighting and wall colouring will usually have crimson, purple or gold, as these were historically regal colours.
It is also important that signage and clutter-free open views be provided, as casino goers should not feel any frustration or confusion when looking for a particular facility.
Signage and easy circulation is especially necessary when it comes to casino hotels, such as the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas or the Trump Plaza hotel in Atlantic City, among many others. In these establishments, there will be noticeably more traffic in and out of the casinos so it is paramount not to confuse the hotel stayers with maze layouts.
The guests will certainly take a look around the casino at the very least, as it would not be a trip to Nevada or Atlantic City without peering into some of the most famous casinos in history.
Some casinos have to be able to provide gambling facilities for thousands of people in one day. Taking that into consideration, the visitors can be more or less grouped based on how they want to use the casino. Let's take a look at those groups:
There are first timers or casino tourists, or those staying at a casino hotel, who have never been to a casino but want to see what lies inside. They may or may not play any of the games but they still provide an audience to blackjack tables or roulette wheels and liven up the atmosphere with their curiosity.
Next, we have the casual gamers, many of whom play rather loosely on various games. They may spend more time on the slot machines or roulette wheels, where they can try their luck. Statistically these players are most likely wandering past the games and trying their hand at a variety of them.
Finally are the more serious gamblers, the high rollers, who usually do not go for the quick thrills of slots but rather go straight for the tables where they can play poker or baccarat and they play with high stakes for long hours.
In the past, slot machines were placed close to the entrance, it was thought that with their flashy distracting characteristics, they could be used for reeling people inside. The machines were not placed in straight rows but into haphazard curves with relatively narrow aisles. This was not only frustrating for high rollers as they wanted to go straight for the tables, but also gave visitors the feeling of clutter.
Nowadays the machines are usually placed in straight rows with plenty of aisle space to allow for the most comfortable gaming. Chairs at slot machines are ergonomic and positioned so that players can put all their concentration into their playing, with no distractions from the adjacent machines. The machines make pleasant sounds and screens are usually set to have lower brightness in order not to make gamblers feel tired.
The increased spacing between slot machines also allow groups of people to circle around and play together, this has been found to be quite a hit with younger gamblers who like to play with friends for boosting morale.
The placement of table games is more rigid than that of the slot machines, as they generally have to be located closer to the centre of the casino. Tables can be clustered together and vary in size according to the function of the game. However, space is given around blackjack or roulette wheels where crowds like to gather, especially when someone is on a roll and starting to make big winnings.
Tables where more people are seated generally gather more interest from passers-by and they tend to fill in the seats when a player drops out.
That being said, this does not mean the less vacated tables are left out completely. For casual gamers, who have not come to spend wads of money, open tables are a good chance to have a go at games that high rollers enjoy, such as blackjack or Texas Hold‘em. There are groups of players who also may prefer to opt for quieter tables where the atmosphere is less tense and stakes are not so high.
There is one myth that has been around for as long as casinos, that while gambling you are served free drinks. This is true, but there are some conditions. In Las Vegas, it is standard procedure to serve drinks to customers, but that does not mean that newbie casino goers should expect to be served straight up. You have to be spending money at the casino. Tipping the waitress also usually goes a long way when it comes to being served free drinks, they usually find you again a bit later with a smile and a refill.
There are some myths about counting cards being illegal, and casinos can refuse to pay out winnings or even go so far as to call the police and put you in a cell. A casino is allowed to ask you to leave if they feel you are shifting the odds in your favour, for example by counting cards or betting with increasing odds in the hope it wins back your money and gives you a profit. But that is as far as it goes, there is no way a casino would put you in jail for gambling.
Another popular rumour is that the loosest slot machines can be found nearest to the entrance in order to attract passers-by and bring players in, but this is also a myth. All machines are set to play with their own features and jackpots, the statistics are set to match the probability of hitting the higher jackpots with the amount in the jackpot.
Now that you have learnt all about casinos, you can use some tips and tricks next time you visit one. You can show your friends where to find the hottest tables, circle around a slot machine or just revel in the pomp and glamour of the palace itself. Do not forget to tip the waitress and impress your friends with free drinks and most importantly, remember it's a place for entertainment.