In the casino world, it’s not enough for gaming operators to offer slot players a stylish chair to park in while they play their favorite games.
Casinos are looking for attractive, sturdy, ergonomically designed chairs that help keep customers comfortable for sessions that may last hours. It’s a tall order, but manufacturers are up to the task, continually refining chair design and materials to accommodate casino industry needs.
The importance of good slot seating can’t be overemphasized, according to Buddy Frank, executive vice president of slot operations, Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.
“I think in the slot world time on device has always been king, and what allows you to play that long is where you’re sitting. If your chair is uncomfortable, you are more likely to get up and leave,” he said.
There was a time when casinos didn’t even offer chairs at the slot machines. Players just stood and pulled the handles on one-armed bandits. Then came slot stools often upholstered in red wine-colored vinyl that offered players the chance to take a load off while they were playing.
Today, there are many more options, all with that major goal in mind – to keep players comfortable and happy in their seats plugging away on their chosen slot game.
“They’re really looking for comfort and durability as the two main features,” said Bob Yabroff, president of Reno-based Gary Platt Manufacturing, a manufacturer of casino seating known for its X-Tended Play seating.
“If they’re staying longer in their seat, that means more time on device and that means more revenue for casino operators,” Yabroff said.
In recent years, slot seating has become more refined– offering foot rests, adjustable seats, and molded seats and seat backs offering lumbar support.
At Pechanga, Frank said, almost all the chairs have backs and most have lumbar support or some comfort shaping in the seat. Slot chairs also get a lot of use, and they need to be able to withstand drink spills, and other mishaps. Chair height also is important, Frank said, so that the player doesn’t have to reach too high to access the slot machine’s buttons.
“You want a good relationship with your hand to the machine. If you have to reach up too high, the blood rushes from your hand and you get tired,” he said.
Steve Odden, vice president of sales and marketing at Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based MLP Seating, said his company strives to answer those needs and to work closely with customers to add custom features to its slot chairs.
“Our approach is to create a variety of price points and features so that whatever the client is looking for we have an option for them,” he said. “We have the ability to do a lot of custom work so we can modify a product to meet their needs.”
Odden noted that durability, comfort and budget are key drivers for casinos seeking to purchase seating.
MLP Seating introduced its new line of gaming seating products – the Stay and Play Series – during the Global Gaming Expo last November. Odden said the series features the best of modern design, comfort and durability.
They feature an innovative multi-density injection molded seat and back, a five-year warranty on the foam, an upholstered wide-flex back bracket for additional comfort, durable seat to stool base attachment construction, heavy-duty, comfortable handle on the seat back, optional removable seat pad; all welded steel base with extended foot rest, bases available with either round or oval tube legs, and bases with welded foot pads and Teflon glides. Offers three seat options, including a first-in-the-industry large seat with a mesh back.
Odden said the Mesh Back gaming stool breathes, offering a cooler experience, and it also lets the slot machine lights and images shine through.
“You have the ultimate in comfort, the ultimate in profile and design and you have the feature of the light being able to shine through the slot machine that no one else does,” Odden said.
Some of today’s seating trends also are being driven by slot machine manufacturers and their new innovative gaming products, said Yabroff.
For instance, some slot companies have collaborated with seating manufacturers have come up with a chair embedded with high-quality sound and motion. “The industry is going that way. There’s a demand for that chair now. We think in a few years that’s going to become pretty popular,” he said.
Norman Friedrich, president of Kenilworth, N.J.-based Top Line Seating, agreed that incorporating electronics, such as speakers, lights, and displays into slot chairs, will likely become even more popular in coming years. He cited WMS and IGT as two slot companies already using such chairs with some of their themed games.
Another new trend is the bench seat, allowing two people to sit together while one or both play a gaming machine, Yabroff said. “It’s been very popular over the last year but over the last six months it’s gotten even more popular. Players seem to really like it where two people can sit down and enjoy the game together.”
Another trend important to operators is the ability to have a handle on the backs of stools and chairs, Friedrich said. “It’s for the players, so they can pull their chairs back easier, but it’s also for slot technicians and the cleaning personnel,” so they can more easily clean around the chairs and stools.
In addition, Friedrich said, the handles help keep players from constantly grabbing the top of the chair to move it. Grabbing the top often gets the chair dirtier more quickly and, if players clamp down too hard, they can eventually deform the foam in the chair along with wearing and tearing the upholstery. “By putting the handles in, the chair will stay nicer-looking for a longer period of time,” Friedrich said.
“Everyone keeps talking about the ergonomics seats. Now what we’re doing is creating the more comfortable backs.”
Top line has created a molded, streamlined compound-curved wood ergonomic back, as opposed to a thick foam version.
Another trend important to operators are floor glides. Friedrich noted that if they’re too small, they can rub away carpet tiles. “They are wanting larger, more substantial floor glides to prevent that from occurring, because carpets are an expensive investment for the casino.”
Youngstown, Ohio-based Gasser Chair offers dual flex slot seats. The dual flex-back action adjusts to the motion of the player not only in the upper back but in the lumbar region. Gasser also offers its Easy Glide roller system, making it easier for slot employees to move around chairs without having to lift weighted bases, adjustable height chairs, and, of course, contoured foam and lumbar support.
Pleasantville, N.J.-based AC Coin & Slot Service has been focusing on ergonomic design for many years. Playing slots consists of many repetitive motions, including pushing spin buttons, staring at the reels and sitting in the same spot for a long period of time. Making sure the chair works with the base and works with the machine keeps players more comfortable and happier longer. AC Coin introduced an ergonomic slot base at the Borgata hotel-casino when it opened in Atlantic City, and many installations have followed, including Sands Bethlehem casino in Pennsylvania and Flagler Racetrack in Florida.
AC Coin’s ErgoBase takes player comfort to new heights with its ergonomically designed footrest. Incorporated in the design of the base is an area where players can stretch their legs and rest their feet. SlotManager