By Carlos Gendron
The casino industry has enjoyed significant growth over the last 20 years. Many casino properties began as tribal casinos, but additional growth is incoming from the commercial sector as states have seen an easy opportunity to generate incremental revenues.
As the industry moves further away from the worst of the pandemic, new opportunities for revenue and growth have emerged, as well as new strategies for attracting customers.
Moreover, states that are looking to offset their increased social spending have already, or are now approving more commercial casinos in their states, which in turn gives tribal casinos increased competition.
Each casino operator now needs to identify creative ways to survive in such an increasingly competitive marketplace, especially as customers begin to return in ever-growing numbers. These strategies can come in many forms, with goals including: increased revenue, operating costs, and an overall improvement of a company’s bottom line. Furthermore, the ability to attract new customers will be crucial.
However, traditional means of increasing foot traffic usually see designs that include lavish, exclusive layouts, with added amenities that will hold the attention of gamblers, tourists and other patrons alike.
Beth Campbell, a Principal at Gensler, a global design firm with casino customers in the USA and different countries around the world, says that her casino customers are asking them what they can do to bring in more and specifically, new patrons, and keep them interested. Campbell advises them that, in addition to beautiful, attractive, innovative traditional architectural design, casino operators should aim to create more pleasant, healthier environments for their patrons in order to generate new customers and increase retention of existing ones.
One area that has seen growing attention is the indoor air quality (IAQ) in a casino. One often conjures a crowded, smokey environment with a slight haze in the air, and left-over smoke-related odors on your clothes when you get home. In general, the casino floor is not typically the best example of health and well-being for patrons.
With that in mind, Richard Giovanetti, co-Founder and President of Giovanetti-Shulman Associates (GSA), a leading casino engineering firm near Philadelphia, PA, says that the success of a casino depends 100% on delivering the right, “positive patron experience”. When designing for casino clients 20 or 30 years ago, this meant mainly creating a “comfortable environment”, as in: not too cold, not too warm, pleasant enough to stay awake, alert and engaged in gambling. Nowadays, that is no longer enough. Casino operators are starting to pay attention to the indoor air quality (IAQ).
In Rich’s experience, as a former smoker himself, there are now two separate audiences that need to be satisfied:
GSA has worked to produce more cost-effective HVAC designs that can reduce their operating costs, while still delivering a welcoming patron experience. As a result, GSA has developed a growing trend for offering more energy-efficient air handling systems with the use of Energy Recovery Units (ERUs) that require less tonnage, and combining them with sophisticated indoor air purification systems.
GSA has incorporated AtmosAir’s Bi-Polar Ionization technology into their HVAC designs as a means of significantly reducing typical casino indoor air contaminants, such as smoke odors, particulates, and chemicals that can affect people’s wellbeing and comfort. Moreover, companies such as Rivers Casinos, based in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, enlisted AtmosAir in order to assist in mitigating odors and to curb complaints from patrons. AtmosAir, in turn, installed 500 Series systems throughout the casinos. The owners of the casino soon saw that indoor air quality had been drastically improved and customer complaints had decreased, and AtmosAir’s technology is now installed throughout all of their casinos. More recently, Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City announced it would be installing AtmosAir’s bi-polar ionization technology on the entire casino floor.
Additionally, the pandemic raised awareness about the spread of airborne illness in large crowded indoor spaces, typical of a casino. AtmosAir’s bi-polar ionization is an active air cleaning technology that can saturate the indoor space with these beneficial air ions and disinfect the air where you breathe. This has been proven in independent laboratory testing on AtmosAir’s systems.
GSA has noted that their clients have been very receptive with buying, maintaining, and benefiting from our clean indoor air systems as a way of keeping their patrons inside the casino for longer periods of time.
The conclusion that can be drawn from these developing trends is that, if casinos are to not only survive, but grow in this more competitive market, they need to aggressively address their indoor air quality and deliver for their patrons a more positive, comfortable, and now healthier environment than ever before.
If a casino’s design combines a strong architectural and interior design approach with more efficient HVAC systems to offer a better IAQ and give their patrons a great experience, these businesses will be able to maintain a strong client base, which in turn will support their bottom line moving forward.
Carlos Gendron is Vice President at AtmosAir Solutions in Fairfield, CT.
( www.atmosair.com ), which provides indoor air quality technology to casinos all over the United States.