IGA Tradeshow: Architects discuss trends and technologies that advance casino design

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There are more than 500 tribal casinos in the United States. Some of them started out as bingo halls with very small capacities. Over the last two decades, tribal casinos have grown to rival and sometimes outshine some of the gaming palaces that dot the landscape between Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

But as tribal casino design forges ahead, it’s important for operators not to become complacent.

“Many, many of our clients will look a year into the future, maybe two years,” said TBE Architects Vice President & Senior Project Manager Luke Stamper during the session “Casino Resort Design Trends with TBE, HBG, and JCJ” at the recent Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow & Convention in Anaheim, California. “In the future, you may need to look a little bit further than that.”

Stamper said the first step is for operators to figure out what will for their region and clientele. “Just because it’s something you’ve been to in Las Vegas or California doesn’t mean it’s going to work in your market.”

It’s also important for tribes to keep abreast of other operators, especially those that are spurring innovation.

JoyceLynn Lagala, associate principal with JCJ Architecture, noted that the increased tribal presence in Las Vegas has brought a “really refreshing energy to an entertainment destination that’s constantly looking to evolve and provide new experiences for guests. It’s important to understand that the trending designs and amenities seen in Las Vegas in this context are really important in how they can influence what’s happening in the rest of the United States. So it’s about evolution, integration, and direction.”

Legala noted in Las Vegas food and beverage, the evolution is about culinary experiences, with chain restaurants increasingly declining in favor of boutique brands that feature quality cuisines and afford guests “unique options that might not be available at home. The designs of these spaces actually play an important role in the draw of customers as well. It’s almost like the design of the venues is the main character and the food itself is best supporting actor.”

Over the past 18 months, artificial intelligence has become a buzz term in the gaming industry. But for Dike Bacon, HBG Design principal/partner, AI is nothing new. He said his firm started leveraging “big data” about four years ago. “Our ability to find types of big data influences our customers’ or clients’ decisions and our designs,” Bacon said.

Bacon remarked that almost everyone has co-location turned on their cellphones “because you want to use Siri.” But that technology is omnipresent and tracks “every step, every movement you make in the cloud. … How long you spend at your desk, how long you spend in your guest room, where you go and eat. … We’re looking at it as a design firm from a totally different angle.”

Using that data, Bacon and his team can get a better understanding of a casino’s existing customers and their movements on properties.

“Our job is not to tell our clients who their customers are, but help them understand those customers better,” Bacon said. “Because all the surveys and everything they issue are all pretty limited.”

Bacon referred to psychographics as an element of big data that can be applied to design. Not to be confused with demographics, psychographics helps identify values, spending habits, and “the things that you do that are emotional, your decisions. And that’s quantifiable. But it’s in the cloud, in levels of big data, and that’s where AI comes in.” Through the use of psychographics, Bacon’s firm can identify and suggest design principles that best serve an operator’s guest experience.

“It’s a trend, but it’s in its infancy,” Bacon said. “I believe AI is in its infancy. It’s pretty scary. I used to kind of fight it, because I turned co-location off, but that doesn’t really work because every time you use your phone, it pings a tower, so it’s all up there in the cloud. So But you can either resist or embrace it and win, and let it make your life better. It’ll make the hospitality experience better, it’ll make the entertainment experience better. Things will be tailored to your likes and what you want in ways that we haven’t even imagined yet in the industry.”

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