Question of the Day July 31, 2005
Q:Why do casinos always use such dizzy-patterned carpeting? I've even noticed this at Indian casinos here in Michigan. Not only is it ugly, it also makes it hard to find coins I've dropped on the floor.
A:Not only is the ugliness of most casino carpets totally deliberate, it’s actually the result of elaborate market-research tests, designed to find the patterns and colors most displeasing to the human eye!
The reason? The casinos don’t want you looking down at the floor; they want your eyes up and focusing on all the games. Along with the lack of clocks and windows, the "dizzy" floor designs also help with the process of generally disorienting you, so you lose track of time -- and, with luck, of how much money you're losing and where the exit is.
On a more domestic note, those busy patterns are also a practical solution to dealing with the relentless foot traffic that passes through each day. As casino-design guru Bill Friedman explains in his 2000 tome, Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition, "When selecting a casino carpet, four qualities should be taken into account: pattern, color, longevity, and comfort. It should have a small or tight pattern, so the inevitable nonremovable stains will be less likely to show."
Friedman goes on to argue that, "The carpet is the one place brilliant colors can be used, because the only time visitors see the floor in front of them is when they are walking around the casino. Reasonably intense colors amplify players' excitement as they approach the gaming equipment. Players do not look down at the carpet while playing, so the coloring is not a distraction."
A word of caution from the expert, however: "Brightly colored carpets can easily become too garish and dissonant. A number of Nevada casinos have had carpets with offensive color combinations and patterns. These carpets deterred first-time visitors from gambling and gave regular players one more reason to stop patronizing these establishments."
If you want evidence of just how crazy these designs can get, visit www.dieiscast.com/gallerycarpet.html. The hobby of Dr. David G. Schwartz of UNLV's Gaming Studies Research Center, as far as we know this is the world’s only gallery dedicated solely to casino carpets and not only includes pretty much every casino carpet in Las Vegas, but also extends to Reno, Atlantic City, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As Schwartz pointed out when we approached him for permission to use the images below, each casino carpet is unique -- it's actually written into the contracts with the manufacturers that a design never be used elsewhere. "This helps to give people a reminder that they're in a special place," said Schwartz.
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