“Ugly carpets are the results of extensive market research,” claims a website called gamblingsites.org. “Tacky carpets with weird lines and curvy patterns actually keep players awake and focused on what they’re doing.”
Every gambler knows that every casino game is designed to take more money from them, on average, than it gives them. So, the brain likes to invent “methods” to outsmart this “trickery,” which tends to extrapolate to every detail of the casino experience.
According to the theory….
The carpet is intended to disorient you and make it harder to find the exits,” claims Reddit user LordPraetorian in the r/LasVegas subreddit.
“The busy designs on the carpet are to draw your eyes upward, and the relatively tame ceilings are to draw your eyes downward,” Redditor oftcenter disagrees. “These two tactics work in combination to keep your attention in front of you and focused on the gaming amenities.”
“These myths are all absurd,” says Scott Roeben of Casino.org’s very own Vital Vegas blog. “It has never occurred to any casino manager, operations person, or owner I’ve ever spoken with to make an ugly carpet so that people will stay awake, or be disoriented, or look up instead of down.”
Casino carpets are busy because busy designs hide stains and wear and tear, period. They’re cleaned frequently, often more than once a day. But it’s impossible to keep up. And because margins are important to public companies, some put off replacing carpets for as many years as possible.
Casinos are different than most other businesses because thousands of customers constantly stream through them, every day, and almost all of them are carrying drinks,” Roeben says. “The spills are more frequent and often more colourful. Slushy drinks come in a variety of colours.
“Oh, and there’s also the vomit.”
Roeben knows casino carpets. Few people working in Las Vegas have helped wear down as many as he has. He’s also obsessed with them, discussing them with his casino executive friends and rushing to tweet photos from casino floors whenever he gets wind of an upgrade. His current favourite is the new carpeting at the Fremont Hotel & Casino downtown.
“I thought people wouldn’t care for it, because it’s all over the place with shapes and bright colors, but people love it,” Roeben says. “They’re renovating the entire casino floor with this wild pattern, section by section. People have a soft spot for over-the-top casino carpet designs.”
Another (Actual) Purpose
There’s one more purpose served by casino carpets, according to Roeben. But this one has nothing to do with trickery, either.
“They also reinforce a casino’s brand,” Roeben says, “and it’s a distinctive element of that brand, which is why you won’t see carpeting duplicated between casinos.”
For instance, the Horseshoe carpet (in the rebranded Bally’s) contains literal horseshoes in its pattern.
“That’s the only one I can think of that’s so on the nose,” Roeben says. “In most cases, though, the pattern is just something distinctive to that one casino. It’s usually so distinctive that a lot of people can identify casinos just based on the carpet.”
Such brand recognition isn’t always in a casino’s self-interest. For instance, law enforcement will sometimes release a photo of a crime scene to the media but, as a courtesy to the casino, not identify where the crime occurred.
“They’ll show an isolated photo, maybe with the yellow tape across some carpeting,” Roeben says. “And people on social media will immediately recognize the casino and announce it.
“Carpet nerds are like the forensic scientists of carpeting.”