Bill Friedman has produced an Epic work! Epics are grand in scale and scope, color and detail. Epics are memorable and become benchmarks against which other efforts are compared. We can appreciate an Epic without agreeing with every detail. And not everyone will agree with all of Friedman's conclusions. But even if you do not agree with him, you cannot lightly dismiss ideas that have grown out of years of study by an author with a rare combination of talent and experience. Bill Friedman combines an academic background with years of gaming industry experience. He taught casino management in the early years of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His seminal book on casino management published in the 1970s and later a second edition published in the early 1980s were the first, and for many years the only, books explaining the business aspects of running a casino. Friedman has already tested many of the Friedman Casino Design Principles in his career as a casino operator at the Castaways and Silver Slipper and as a consultant to casinos throughout the world. He is uniquely qualified to produce an Epic on the subject of casino design and layout.
Historians, sociologists, and psychologists interested in gaming will be unintended beneficiaries of Friedman's detailed description of Nevada's casinos and the social and psychological imperatives associated with casino layout and design that drive gamblers.
This work is not based on opinions of customers. It is based on their actions. Anyone who has any knowledge of human behavior knows that survey responses do not always match up with behavioral observations. By focusing his research on physical factors such as light levels, ceiling heights, and foot-traffic patterns and measuring the effects of these factors by the player-to-visitor ratio, Friedman's approach allows other researchers to apply his methodology without having to analyze and compare survey questions to determine their validity. They can make the same kinds of observations that Friedman makes using the analytical tools he uses and compare results. Casino executives, architects, gaming analysts, and academic researchers can use Friedman's methodology to design new properties or evaluate existing properties.
There is an old saying that half the money spent on advertising is wasted, but you don't know which half. Similar remarks could be made about casino layout and design. To date it has been almost 100% art with little if any science, other than using win-per machine and win-per-square-foot as measures of what seems to work and what does not. Friedman's Principles of Casino Design offer the potential for a more scientific approach to casino layout and design. There will still remain plenty of room for the art of casino layout and design, but additional tools are now available to designers and managers.
One caveat does come to mind. When we begin to understand that people do something, without consciously thinking about why they do it, and we reveal that knowledge, will they alter their behavior?
The sheer audacity of attempting to analyze 81 casinos and identify the physical aspects of the operation that correlate with success is to be admired. This is no short-term project that a professor could complete in a one-year sabbatical from teaching. Nor is it merely the practiced eye of an experienced gamer wandering through casinos making notes about occupancy counts. When Friedman starts talking about casino light levels in foot-candles, sound in decibels, and ceiling heights in inches and the size of soffits and coffers in the casino to the nearest inch, he is analyzing data that few if any of the decision makers in the individual properties are familiar with. This rich detail should be a treasure trove for those interested in researching casino operations or casino design. Every casino executive who has responsibility for casino layout and design, or who aspires to such positions should read this book. Every architect or interior designer of casinos should read this book. Every investor, lender, or analyst who seeks to understand why or whether a casino will succeed in its competitive environment should read this book. It should also be read by every student who wants to learn how to run a casino or design one.
Shannon Bybee, J.D.
Executive Director, UNLV International Gaming Institute
Associate Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
University of Nevada Las Vegas
THE FRIEDMAN MANAGEMENT GROUP
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