Specifier's Notebook: Don't Roll the Dice on Casino Lighting

Modern day casinos are really multipurpose developments that must fulfill a variety of customer needs and desires. Casinos typically deliver the goods through multifaceted entertainment "experiences" that might include rides or shopping in addition to traditional shows, dining and gambling.


Modern day casinos are really multipurpose developments that must fulfill a variety of customer needs and desires. Casinos typically deliver the goods through multifaceted entertainment "experiences" that might include rides or shopping in addition to traditional shows, dining and gambling. In fact, recent studies show that shopping attractions draw more people into casino complexes than gaming does.

Such a broad agenda necessitates a specialized lighting and engineering design. And with this grand scope, energy efficiency is an even more important issue. In terms of lighting, this means that a sensitive, but practical approach must be taken. Technology, of course, also helps. Seeing infrared

Take, for example, a fairly new MR-16 lamp that includes an infrared coating helped make energy savings a reality for a new Caesars Palace in South Africa.

The lamps, which were specified for the casino's recessed lighting systems, allowed 50-watt MR-16 lamps to be installed instead of 75-watt MR-16s. This switch was possible because the product produced greater light output.

According to its manufacturer, the lamp's ellipsoidal tungsten halogen capsule and the infrared reflective coating ensures that radiated heat, which otherwise would be wasted, is reflected back to the lamp filament. Because the heat stays within the capsule, less energy is required to bring the filament up to its optimal temperature.

The technology would have allowed even greater savings, but for the fact that the casino had very high ceilings—about 20 ft. More conventional ceilings could probably get by with 35-watt lamps.

Approximately 3,000 lamps and bulbs were needed for the job. Using the more energy-efficient lamp equated to a direct saving of 75 kWh (3,000 x 25 watts per bulb).

That being said, it's helpful to have a general understanding of casino lighting needs. The gaming floor itself can be subdivided into two main areas: slots and tables. Slots require clear, general illumination from at least two sources—the first being the light from the slot machines themselves, which generate about 20 to 50 lux. The second layer can be from a number of sources, usually recessed downlight or pendant fixtures at the ceiling. This typically yields a lighting level between 50 and 100 lux.

Keep in mind that signage—generally colored neon or fluorescent—negatively impacts a space's light quality. But generally, as long as security cameras can see what's happening, the casinos are happy.

As for the gaming tables, lighting levels should be about 300 to 500 lux. A primary concern is glare affecting the myriad of security cameras. Crosslighting, along with the addition of anti-glare honeycomb filters, usually eliminates this problem.

Personally, I like to utilize six recessed downlights per blackjack table and 10 per roulette table. This may sound excessive, but placing them on a dimming system and then crosslighting allows for the elimination of harmful shadows. Furthermore, by dimming down to 90%, the lamp life of all bulbs can be increased. Mood matters

Other typical casino areas involve drink stations and bars. Soft mood lighting can be achieved by indirect cove uplighting, and placing lights underneath the bar surface if it's glass or marble. Another strategy is to uplight through drinks on the counter, which creates a glowing effect on the faces of people sitting at the bar.

The final aspect of the casino floor is the private salon. High-limit slots require high-limit lighting. The mood requires opulence and therefore high contrast is mandatory; the use of sconces and crystal chandeliers can do the trick. Tables and slots are still illuminated in the same manner as the general gaming floor. Additionally, dimming systems can change the mood from morning to daytime to evening to night.

With regard to non-gaming areas, restaurants and shopping areas are usually themed and should be illuminated accordingly; theater areas are also screened off from the floor and should be lit to specific to the show's needs.

Casino Lighting:

Infrared MR-16s = substantial energy savings

Slots and tables require at least two illumination sources

High stakes = high contrast

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