Few would argue that customer comfort is of paramount importance to the modern, land-based casino enterprise experience, and in response gaming operators and suppliers are more eager than ever to integrate ergonomic principles into seating and other high-use items.
But this use of ergonomics within casinos is not confined solely to patron-facing products; it now extends to hardware used throughout the property, with the goal of providing increased comfort and injury prevention to facility employees as well as visitors. Simply put, ergonomics focuses on the prevention of discomfort as much as providing comfort.
Integrating ergonomic design into various casino products can be a challenge however since people tend to come in many shapes and sizes. As a result, a design that may be comfortable for one person can be unpleasant for the next. Clothes and shoes come in different sizes to accommodate these differences, but chairs and hardware have quite the complex task when it comes to gaming properties because they will have more than one user in their lifetimes.
In addition, ergonomic products must be designed with facility differentiation in mind and feature the flexibility and technology needed to integrate with the latest gaming advances to ensure customer comfort and foster increased play.
“Often casino architects and designers emphasize that products look good when they should focus on customer satisfaction in the broadest sense of the term,” said Lucien van Linden, CEO of Gaming Support, a Netherlands-based supplier of services and products for land-based casinos. “[A gaming customer] should feel good, sit well and play easy in a clean casino environment.”
Basic ergonomic concepts that should be considered by manufacturers when designing new products—and for casino operators when integrating them onto their casino floor—are aesthetics, comfort, the ease of use, performance management, productivity and, of course, safety. “The DNA of every one of our seating products begins with ergonomic principles,” said Ed Abadie, design engineer at Gary Platt Manufacturing, a Reno, Nev.-based supplier of casino seating. “The design insures there is a good lumbar support, the correct seat and back molded foam densities for the surface areas are used and the alignment of back angles to seat are correct. Base designs should also have ergonomically correct seat to footrest ratios for comfort and provide the user stability at all gaming heights offered.”
Casino ergonomics continue to evolve and with the help of research and development suppliers are better able to integrate the health benefits of ergonomic theory into their products. One of the main objectives of ergonomic seating and hardware is to ensure the subtle yet important aspects of user comfort are merged into the product’s proper function. Let’s face it… people who are comfortable are likely more beneficial for the operation over longer time periods; this applied to employee productivity as well as increased time on device from the patron.
For example, Gaming Support studied how cards were being dealt at blackjack tables. They came to realize that repetitive strains and injuries to dealers could be lessened if cards came out of the shoe easier. They also discovered that table game cloth that allowed for easier handling of cards was beneficial for both dealers and players. “We maximized the ‘reach-radius’ for customers and dealers, so playing live games isn’t tiring,” van Linden said.
Of course, Gaming Support is not the only casino furniture and hardware provider embracing the science of ergonomics. Below you will find a brief roundup of other companies that have realized added value and benefit to their customer by integrating ergonomics into product design.
GARY PLATT MANUFACTURING
Gary Platt Manufacturing has been designing and building seating for the casino business for over 40 years and has focused a keen eye on customer comfort from the start.
“From its beginning, Gary Platt has put a premium on using the highest quality materials in its seating, as well as beingone of the pioneers in insuring ergonomic principles are used in every design and style we offer,” Abadie said. “It has, in many cases, allowed us to be in the forefront of design and certainly in seating comfort. From our contemporary designs to the more classic designs, ergonomic comfort is the primaryconcern. Our customers have trusted us with the development/design of custom seating products, knowing that our ergonomic criterion extends to our sound chairs, benches and many other custom seating solutions we have designed for them.”
According to Abadie, the company’s classic Gazelle line of seats introduced the gaming industry to the benefits of ergonomic design, a concept the company continues to evolve and grow. “From our X-Tended Play products to the newly developed X2-Tended Play seating, the Gary Platt Classic series has been ergonomically updated,” Abadie said. “The newly introduced and ergonomically designed LIDO series is proving to be a best seller along with several newly designed base options such as the Epic Base.”
“The key to the success of our products is the focus on seating comfort, and the interchangeability of seat head style and base designs,” Abadie added. “This offers the customer the ability to develop a look unique to their property. We also feel that because the focus of our seating is to extend the users ‘time-on-device’ by using correct ergonomic design, it sets us apart from our competition.”
ECLECTIC CONTRACT FURNITURE INDUSTRIES
ECLECTIC Contract Furniture Industries is a long standing furniture fabrication company with a well-established history of providing customers with quality furniture and case goods for almost any conceived design, according to company literature. Their proven manufacturing technique delivers furnishings with beauty, style, function and durability.
ECLECTIC products have been installed in the hospitality field across the U.S. and the Caribbean. They have provided furnishings for thousands of accommodations, in addition to numerous dining, corporate and entertaining establishments ranging from boutique hotels and high-end branded properties to resorts and casino hotels.
Alex Marc, president of ELECTIC, said that the company’s popular collections include, Sinu, Tribecas, Ribeca and LegArm. “Our Sinu [collection] was tested for 10 hours a day, 30 days straight, and the person did not have to visit the chiropractor,” Marc said.
Meanwhile, the LegArm lounge chair was created to provide increased customer comfort through the use of “legarms;” a type of framing system that allows chair legs/arms to move in different directions, one forward, one backwards, creating a motion as the chair is “walking.” The shape of the legarms comes from four different curves that are all the same radius although the way they are composed they look different. The top portions are also the same shape even though they look different, and the armrests are wide enough to rest a drink.
“Every new product or new projects require full technical team attention when being developed,” said Marc, who added that functional ergonomics have been practiced for the past 30 years in over 1,000 styles of chairs, bar-stools and other custom pieces of Eclectic furniture.
Gaming Support designs and manufactures innovative products and technology solutions for the global gaming industry. Over the years, expansion of its products and services has grown from being solely focused on The Netherlands to having products placed inside casinos and gambling halls on six of the world’s seven continents, as stated on the company website.
Ergonomics do not come with an extra price tag at Gaming Support—it is incorporated into all of its products as standard practice. “Dealers and players spend considerable time on a gaming table while repeating the same motions over and over again; we like to make products that when used are highly effective for both dealer and players and require a minimum physical effort,” van Linden said. “The easier it is to physically participate in any event, the more successful it becomes.”
For example, Gaming Support has developed the Hybrid Gaming Device, a slot machine concept designed with the goal of allowing players to play and chat comfortably while sitting at the machine. The company also offers a line of ergonomic live table games, which have recently been installed at Holland Casinos.
“Before deploying any product, we want it to feel and handle right, without any problematic motions or handling,” van Linden said. “If we don’t do our job well, we see a rise in illnesses and personal injuries or a drop in revenue; both are expensive. If we are not sure if we have designed a product properly we consult an ergonomist.”
StylGame creates seating for table games and betting machines—padded chairs and comfortable stools designed to offer maximum comfort and aesthetics to their clients. The Italian manufacturing company specializes in gaming and presents clients with high-quality products that guarantee long lasting satisfaction, comfort and extended play time.
A strong suite for StylGame is its ongoing commitment to ergonomic research and development. “We strive to improve our products and their quality in order to guarantee the maximum ergonomics and comfort to the final user,” said Roberto Ronchi, export sales manager at StylGame. “During the past years, research and development represented a major share of the company’s overall investments.”
Indeed, in 2008, a scientific study was carried out by StylGame in collaboration with Area Science Park and Casinò di Venezia—one of the first such studies to address the issue of casino ergonomics. From that study came the company’s renowned Royal Stool product line and its patented “Play in Comfort” seating system.
“Chair design and production remains the core business at StylGame, backed by extensive experience and ergonomic research,” Ronchi added. “Among all our lines, Verona Ergo and Florence Ergo are the best sellers. The Shift base is another product that has met the appreciation of many customers. StylGame pays good attention to the player’s comfort as it has positive influence on our customers’ results.”
Located in Ohio, the family-owned Gasser Chair Company also focuses on ergonomics; everything done in the design of their products is based on reducing stress on the player over a long period of time and to make sure their products have extended longevity.
“We created the flex back bracket and the quick change seat to make the back design help relieve stress on the back and to make the seat pad easy to replace to provide a clean seat for the patron,” said Steve Odden, Native American gaming specialist for Gasser Chair. “We make our own injection molded foam to ensure both the right firmness and longevity. With our own in-house engineering team and test lab, we focus both ergonomics and durability in everything we do.”
According to Odden, Gasser has the broadest range of products in the industry. “Most of what is selling today was developed over the last six or seven years and a result of attention to ergonomic, durability and ease of maintenance factors,” Odden said. “With our broad offering we have a variety of products that sell, meet the casino’s requirement for both style and ergonomics along with durability and create the ability for each casino to have their own unique look.”
INNOVATIVE CASINO PRODUCTS (ICP)
ICP is a family owned business specializing in a variety of industry components: slot bases, pit podiums, change banks, chairs, slot stations, change carts, jackpot fill stations, cabinets, countertops, display cabinets, bill banks, computer stations, table game drink rails, and other custom mill products. Their products are designed to hold up to the rigorous activities of today’s casinos and are custom built per customer specifications.
“Innovative spends a good amount of time looking at trends, changes throughout the industry, staying ahead of the design curve, as well as coming up with our own industry innovations,” said Chris Salenski, national account executive at ICP. “Over the years, we have made changes to the design of the slot base so the player has more room and used different materials to increase the durability of the base.”