Bill Friedman
The Friedman Management Group


from Bill Friedman's recent book

Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition
The Friedman International Standards of Casino Design™




  • William R. Eadington, Ph.D. read this forward
    Director, Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming
    University of Nevada-Reno
  • Shannon Bybee, J.D. read this forward
    Executive Director, International Gaming Institute
    University of Nevada-Las Vegas

PART I - Research and Findings - The Friedman International Standards of Casino Design

PREFACE - Conduct of the Research and Organization of the Findings

  • Research Methods - Appendix A
  • Factors that Affect Player Counts - Appendix B
  • Evaluating Competitive Positions among Casinos - Appendix C
  • Unique Natural Light Photographs of Current Casinos - Appendix D
  • Development of the Friedman Principles
CHAPTER 1 - The Friedman Casino Design Principles
  • Two Initial Findings and Their Monumental Implications
  • The Definition of Casino Design - More than Decor
  • General Design Principles Versus Specific Interiors
  • A Summary of the Principles' Traits
  • Predictive Power of the Friedman Design Principles
  • Predicting a Proposed Casino's Financial Potential for Investors
  • The Thirteen Friedman Design Principles
  • Friedman International Standards of Casino Design-Rating System
CHAPTER 2 - Principle 1 - A Physically Segmented Casino beats a Completely Open Barn
  • Initial Discovery - The Problems with Barn Designs
  • Small, Early Nevada Casinos - 1930s-1960s
  • Winning Principle 1 - Segmenting a Casino Diminishes the Barn Effect
CHAPTER 3 - Losing Principle 1 - Nevada's Completely Open Casino Barns
  • The Fate of Nevada's Barn-Style Casinos
  • The Six Earliest Large Nevada Casino Barns - Mid-1960s and 1970s
  • The Large Strip Megaresort Barns of the 1990s
  • Three Strip Casinos Expanded into Barns in the 1990s
  • Five Rotunda-Shaped Casinos
  • The Fate of the Seven Little Strip Barns
  • Henderson Competition - The Rainbow and the Eldorado
  • The Five Stateline Casinos
  • Nevada's Earliest Tiny Barns - 1930s-1940s
  • Harolds Barn Expansion - 1979
  • Atlantic City's Casino Woes
  • Harrah's New Orleans Bankruptcy
  • The Cross-Cultural Impact of Casino Barns
  • The Barn Effect in Small Ancillary Slot Operations
CHAPTER 4 - Principle 2 - Gambling Equipment Immediately Inside Casino Entrances Beats Vacant Raised Entrance Landings and Empty Lobbies
  • Winning Principle 2 - The Ideal Entry
  • Losing Principle 2 - Raised Landings Deter Potential Play
  • Types of Raised Landings
  • The Las Vegas Hilton and SpaceQuest, Bally's on the Strip, and the Reno Hilton
  • The Riviera on the Strip
  • The Sands on the Strip
  • The Barbary Coast, the Stratosphere, the Hard Rock, and the Santa Fe
  • Six Segmented Casinos With Raised Entrance Landings
  • Six Casinos With Raised Interior Landings
  • Nevada Designers' Penchant for Barns With Raised Landings
  • Solutions for Interior Stair Landings
  • Facilitating Traffic Flow With Stairs and Casino Drivers
  • Solutions for Escalator Landings
  • A Large Hotel Lobby Located in the Casino Entrance - Losing Principle 2
  • A Sunken Area Within a Casino
CHAPTER 5 - Principle 3 - Short Lines of Sight Beat Extensive Visible Depth
  • Winning Principle 3 - Short Sight Lines
  • Losing Principle 3 - Long Sight Lines
  • The Boundless Sea-of-Slots Effect - The Never-Ending Layout
  • The Overcast-Sky Effect - A Low, Flat, Uninterrupted Ceiling
  • Painted Ceilings - Blue Sky and White Clouds
  • Ceiling Level Solutions - Multiple Soffit and Coffer Elevations
  • Solutions With Other Types of Varying Elevations
  • Solutions With Asymmetrical Floor Layout and Ceiling Design Combinations
  • The Negative Effect of Long, Straight, Uninterrupted Passageways and Aisles
  • High-Profile Slot Cabinets As Visual Barriers
CHAPTER 6 - Principle 4 - The Maze Layout beats Long, Wide, Straight Passageways and Aisles
  • Principle 4: The Maze Versus Long Pathways
  • Two Maze Styles - Short, Straight Walkways and Frequently Curving Ones
  • Nevada's $1 Slot Play from 1970 to the Development of the Maze Slot Layout
  • The First Modern Maze Slot Layout - Reno's Cal-Neva in 1978
  • The Second and Third Maze Layouts - The Castaways and the Silver Slipper on the Strip in 1980
  • Casino Appeal's Immediate Impact on Tourists
  • The Casino Industry's Disregard of the Maze Layout's Tremendous Successes
  • Ineffective Application of the Maze Concept Deters Traffic Flow and Potential Play
  • Properly Integrating Layout Elements
CHAPTER 7 - The Many Advantages of the Maze Slot Layout
  • Advantage 1 - Attracting Visitors Throughout the Entire Casino
  • Advantage 2 - Focusing Visitors' Attention on the Gambling Equipment
  • Advantage 3 - The Illusion of Being Crowded
  • The Importance of Being Crowded - The Harolds/Cal-Neva Market Research, the Friedman Critical Headcount Mass Phenomenon, and Shills
  • Advantage 4 - Enhancing Excitement By Being Crowded
  • Advantage 5 - A Multitude of Small, Appealing Gambling Worlds
  • Advantage 6 - Intensified Machine Loudness
CHAPTER 8 - Principle 5 - A Compact and Congested Gambling-Equipment Layout beats a Vacant and Spacious Floor Layout
  • Winning Principle 5 - A Jam Packed and Cramped Floor Layout
  • Losing Principle - A Spacious Floor Layout
  • The Popularity of Congested and Compact Settings
  • Advantage 7 - Maze Layout
  • The Imagery of Spaciousness Versus Player Preference for Snugness
  • Players' Desire for Compactness Can Complement Fire Safety
CHAPTER 9 - The Four Primary Interior Elements Found in Every Super Successful Nevada Casino
  • Dominate or Be Dominated - The Four Most Relevant Winning Principles
  • The Megaresorts' Weak Player-to-Visitor Ratios
  • Ideal Interiors - Not the Famous and Glamorous, but the Busiest and Most Parasitic
  • The First Outstanding Player-Appealing Interior - Harolds Reno
  • The Four Largest Casinos in the 1960s-1980s - Harolds Reno, Harrah's Reno and Tahoe, and Harveys Tahoe
  • Domination of the Strip - The Castaways and the Silver Slipper
  • Two Later Reno Leaders - The Primadonna and the Cal-Neva
  • Early Downtown Las Vegas Leaders - the Boulder, the Pioneer, and the Golden Nugget
  • The Three Oldest Downtown Las Vegas Casinos - the El Cortez, the Horseshoe, and the Golden Gate
CHAPTER 10 - Principle 6 - An Organized Gambling-Equipment Layout With Focal Points of Interest beats a Floor Layout That Lacks a Sense of Organization
  • Principle 6 - Organized Versus Disorganized
  • Advantage 8 - Facilitating Traffic Flow - Maze Layout
  • Advantage 9 - Directing Traffic Flow on Passageways into Gambling Aisles
  • Large Department Stores and Disneyland Theme Parks Facilitate Traffic Flow
  • Advantage 10 - Focal Points Facilitate Visitor Traffic Flow
  • The Disneyland Design Goals
  • Sitting Focal Points to Facilitate Traffic Flow and Emphasize Gambling Features
  • Producing More Appealing Gambling Settings by Observing the Unique Qualities of Players
  • Designing Effective and Strategically Located Focal Points
  • Focal Point Architectural Element Variety
  • Focal Point Design Diversity
CHAPTER 11 - Principle 7 - Segregated Sit-Down Facilities Beat Contiguous Ones

CHAPTER 12 - Principle 8 - Low Ceilings beat High Ceilings
  • Ceiling Height's Powerful impact on Potential Play
  • Ceiling Height and Player Count Interrelationships
  • The Correlation Between Ceiling Height and Competitive Ranking
  • Las Vegas Strip Casinos - Ceiling Heights
  • Downtown Las Vegas Casinos - Ceiling Heights
  • Las Vegas Neighborhood Casinos - Ceiling Heights
  • Laughlin Casinos - Ceiling Heights
  • Reno/Sparks Casinos - Ceiling Heights
  • South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Casinos-Ceiling Heights
CHAPTER 13 - Principle 9 - Gambling Equipment As the Decor beats Impressive and Memorable Decorations
  • Winning Principle 9 - The Gambling Equipment Is the Decor
  • Losing Principle 9 - Decor Is Nothing but a Dramatic First Impression
  • Only Players Matter
  • Differentiating Casinos Through the Use of Decor
  • Unforgettable interiors - But for Whom?
  • The Woolworth Merchandising Approach
  • Highlighting the Gambling Equipment
  • Minimal Decor
  • Unnoticed and Unremembered Decor
CHAPTER 14 - Extreme Examples of Decor - Beauty Versus Plainness
  • The Uniqueness of the Golden Gate
  • The Pioneer Versus the Golden Gate
  • The Similarity of the Reno Nugget and the Golden Gate
  • The Reno Nugget Versus the Flamingo Hilton Reno's Slot Arcade
  • Beauty in Whose Eyes?
  • Beauty Versus Ugly - The Demise of the Main Street Station
  • The Main Street Station's Many Design Weaknesses
  • The Friedman Design Principles Predict the Main Street Station's Failure
  • The New Main Street Station
  • The MGM Grand's Problems Were Foreshadowed By the Main Street Station's
  • Accurately Predicting Casino Success in the 1990s Using the Friedman Design Principles
CHAPTER 15 - Designers and Design Decision-Makers - Hung Up on Personal Taste
  • Designers Are Unaware of Their Influence on Player Counts
  • Today's Emphasis on the Losing Principles
  • Rating Interior Designers By Player Counts at Their Previous Projects
  • Design Decision-Makers' Ignorance of Their Gambling Product
  • Players Define Casino Ambiance
CHAPTER 16 - Principle 10 - Standard Decor beats Interior Casino Themes
  • To Theme or Not to Theme
  • How Nevada's Therned Resort Casinos Have Fared
  • The Performance of Nevada's Quasi-Themed Resort Casinos
  • The Curb Appeal of Four Effective Strip Exteriors
CHAPTER 17 - Principle 11 - Pathways Emphasizing the Gambling Equipment beat the Yellow Brick Road
  • Accentuating the Equipment Versus the Yellow Brick Road The Mirage's Yellow Brick Road
  • Typical Visitor Traffic Flow Patterns on a Yellow Brick Road
  • The Main Street Station and MGM Grand Yellow Brick Roads
CHAPTER 18 - Lighting, Signage and Canopies, and Sound
  • Functional or Task Lighting
  • Directional Signage
  • Gambling Promotional Signage
  • Strategic Sign Placement and Design
  • Sign and Canopy Lighting - Motion, Intensity, and Excitement
  • Decorative Lighting as an Attraction
  • Highlighting the Gambling Activity
  • Light Dimmers and Security Locks
  • Down Lights
  • Casino Cage Lighting
  • Sound Volume Versus Noise
  • Casinos With Noisy Hard Surfaces
  • Acoustically Reflecting Surfaces and the Sounds of Gambling
  • Entertainment Lounge Acoustics and Lighting
CHAPTER 19 - Carpet, Chairs, Arm Rests, Temperature, Smoke, and Player Comfort
  • Carpet - Colors and Patterns
  • Carpet - Player Comfort
  • Seating Comfort and Diversity
  • Table Surfaces and Rim Covers
  • Temperature Control
  • The Special Needs of Live Poker Players
  • Cigarette Smoke
CHAPTER 20 - Winning Principle 12 - Perception beats Reality
  • Height/Depth Perspective
  • Adding Hoods, Canopies, and Signage to Lower Perceived Height
  • Decorations Below Ceiling Level
  • Structural Posts and Perceived Gambling Ambiance
CHAPTER 21 - Losing Principle 12 - Exterior Casino Design and Perception
  • The Relationship Between Perception and Image
  • The Approach to the Property
  • A Fanciful Marquee Versus an Information Billboard
  • Entry into the Property
  • Directional Signage Assists Traffic Flow on the Property
  • Entry to the Parking Area and Ease of Parking
  • The Walk from the Car to the Casino
  • The Casino Entrance/Exit
  • Seeing Everything from the Visitors' Perspective
  • The Fremont Street Experience Versus the Stratosphere Tower
  • The Visitors' View of the Establishment
  • The Sands' Intimidating Pedestrian Entrance
CHAPTER 22 - Principle 13 - Multiple Interior Settings and Gambling Ambiances beat a Single Atmosphere Throughout
  • The Advantages of Multiple Gambling Worlds
  • Nevada's First Large Casinos Offered Multiple Settings
  • Disney's Theme Parks Offer Multiple Environments
  • Ineffective Multiple Interior Designs Cause Disparate Player Counts
CHAPTER 23 - Designing a New Casino Interior
  • Goals and Initial Phases
  • Traffic Flow into Dead-Ends
  • Coordinating Food Functions
  • Situating Entrances to Casino Drivers Around the Gambling Areas
  • Any Shaped Gambling Area Will Do
  • Placing the Gambling Equipment
  • The Classic Pit Layout
  • Live Poker in Main Traffic Flows
  • Games That Share the Same Players
  • The Final Two Design Phases
  • Lounges to Entertain Gamblers
  • Location of the Cashier's Cage
CHAPTER 24 - The Friedman Design Principles Also Apply to Restaurants and Bars
  • Segmented Restaurants
  • Restaurant Table Spacing
  • Enclosed, Intimate Casino Bars Versus Open Island Bars
  • Soffitry Over Casino Island Bars
  • Multi-tiered Floor Levels
  • Outdoor Decor Lacks Player Appeal

PART II - Applying the Principles to the Casinos of Nevada: The Friedman International Standards of Casino Design

Las Vegas Strip Map

CHAPTER 25 - The Twenty-Seven Major Strip Casinos

CHAPTER 26 - Weak Long-Term Performance - The Las Vegas Hilton and Bally's

  • Las Vegas Hilton
  • SpaceQuest Casino
  • Bally's Las Vegas
CHAPTER 27 - The Desert Inn-Frontier Crosswalk Strip Casinos
  • Desert Inn
  • Frontier
CHAPTER 28 - The North-End Strip Casinos
  • Riviera
  • Circus Circus Las Vegas
  • Stardust
  • Westward Ho
  • Stratosphere
CHAPTER 29 - The Small Strip Casinos
  • Slots-A-Fun
  • Silver City
  • Barbary Coast
  • Nickel Town at the Riviera
  • Hard Rock
CHAPTER 30 - The Middle Strip Casinos
  • Mirage
  • Treasure Island
  • Flamingo Hilton Las Vegas
  • Caesars Palace Las Vegas
  • Harrah's Las Vegas
  • Aladdin
CHAPTER 31 - The South-End Strip Casinos
  • MGM Grand
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Tropicana Las Vegas
  • Monte Carlo
  • New York-New York
CHAPTER 32 - The Downtown Las Vegas Casinos
  • Map of Downtown Las Vegas Casinos
  • Horseshoe Las Vegas
  • El Cortez
  • Golden Gate
  • Golden Nugget Las Vegas
  • Four Queens
  • Fremont
  • Fitzgeralds Las Vegas
  • California
  • Lady Luck Las Vegas
  • Main Street Station
  • Union Plaza
  • Las Vegas Club
CHAPTER 33 - The Boulder Highway Neighborhood Casinos
  • Showboat Las Vegas
  • Sam's Town Las Vegas
  • Boulder Station
  • Sunset Station
  • Reserve
CHAPTER 34 - The West of the Strip Neighborhood Casinos
  • Palace Station
  • Gold Coast
  • Orleans
  • Rio and Masquerade Village
  • Arizona Charlie's
CHAPTER 35 - The Rancho Drive Neighborhood Casinos
  • Santa Fe
  • Fiesta
  • Texas Station
CHAPTER 36 - The Laughlin Casinos
  • Gold River
  • Ramada Express
  • Harrah's Del Rio
  • Flamingo Hilton Laughlin
  • Colorado Belle
  • Edgewater
  • Riverside
  • Golden Nugget Laughlin
  • Pioneer
CHAPTER 37 - The South Shore, Lake Tahoe Casinos
  • Horizon
  • Caesars Tahoe
  • Bill's
  • Harrah's Tahoe
  • Harveys Tahoe
CHAPTER 38 - The Isolated Reno/Sparks Casinos
  • Reno Hilton
  • Sparks Nugget
  • Silver Club
  • Peppermill
  • Hyatt Regency at North Shore, Lake Tahoe
  • Atlantis
  • Boomtown Reno
  • Map of Reno/Sparks Casinos
CHAPTER 39 - The Reno Downtown Core Casinos
  • Silver Legacy
  • Eldorado
  • Circus Circus Reno
  • Harrah's Reno
  • Club Cal-Neva
  • Fitzgeralds Reno
  • Flamingo Hilton Reno
  • Reno Nugget
Contacting the Author

PART III - Conduct of the Research and Background Information: The Friedman International Standards of Casino Design

APPENDIX A - Research Methods

  • Twenty Years of Investigative Research
  • Nevada's Casinos-The Quintessential Laboratory
  • Competition Among Nevada's Major Casinos
  • Objective and Quantitative Research Analysis
APPENDIX B - Factors That Affect Player Counts
  • The Influence of Location
  • Significance of Interior Design
  • Interior Design Supersedes Marketing
  • Comparing Locations-Results of the Stardust and Tropicana
  • Importance of Hotel Rooms
  • Monopolistic Casinos Have Competition Too
APPENDIX C - Evaluating Competitive Positions Among Casinos
  • Quantitative Analysis of Casino Competitive Positions
  • A Casino's Potential Popularity Versus Its Actual Popularity
  • Casino Win
  • Slot-Win, Total Slots, Slot-Occupancy Rate, and Average Slot Win
  • Slot-to-Room Ratio and Player-to-Room Ratio
  • The Best Indicator of Profit Potential- The Player-to-Visitor Ratio
  • Player Count Methodology
  • Estimating Competitors' Player Counts
  • Data Sources
APPENDIX D - Unique Natural Light Photographs of Current Casinos
  • The Casino Interior Photographs
  • The Photographic Panorama
  • Two-Dimensional Photographs
  • No-Flash Photography
  • Disparate Light Levels
  • Artificial Lighting and Filters
  • Photographing at Slow Times
  • Masking the Photograph Faces
  • The Photographing Time Frame
TABLE A - Measurements of Interior Physical and Sensory Characteristics




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