Slot Layouts and Social Distancing
In the new COVID-19 Social Distancing world there will be several decisions that need to be made when it comes to Slot Floor Layouts. How do we choose what games to leave up for play and what games to shut down? How do we optimize our existing floor space while adhering to social distancing guidelines? The good news is Slot Players have been self-social distancing for years and that gives us clues as to what may work best going forward. In this article we discuss options for effectively utilizing the physical space in your slot layouts to maximize player experience, comfort, and the feeling of safety.
Not all jurisdictions have released rules regarding social distancing and slot floors, but for our purposes here we will assume a similar set of rules that Nevada has released. The below excerpt is taken from the recently released Nevada Gaming Control Boards Policy for resuming gaming operations.
“Gaming Machines: Plans must ensure that the floor plan for gaming machines creates proper social distancing between patrons. For example, chairs and stools in front of every other gaming machines could be removed so that patrons do not sit next to each another, or licensees could propose other measures to ensure proper distance between patrons”
Slot Players have been self-social distancing forever. In analysis we have all performed over the years there are certain bank configurations and games on banks that perform better because of the additional physical distance a player has between them and the next player. End games usually perform better in standard back to back slot banks, endcaps show premium performance, and carousels consistently outperform back to back banks by 10% to 20%. Players generally do not enjoy sitting next to someone else and post pandemic that feeling will most likely be intensified. So how do we use what we already know to create the best layouts and promote the feeling of player comfort and safety?
You have 2 main options when deciding what to do with your slot floor now. Turn off every other game on your existing back to back and wall banks or to do some sort of reconfiguration removing a % of your games from the floor and spacing out the remaining machines. Realistically you will probably do a combination of both options but let us first discuss spacing.
What Nevada has recommended is to either remove every other chair from in front of slot machines or to propose another option that ensures proper distancing. We believe just removing a chair will lead to more issues than benefits and the perception of safety will be severely impacted when players can move chairs and play games next to each other. For back to back banks we are recommending the shutdown of every other machine, however there are better options. Looking at a standard slot base with a width of 28” and a standard slot chair with a width of around 19” that realistically would space out Slot Players around 3’2” apart. Looking at other bank configurations we believe the argument can and should be made that there is additional spacing for players and there is less of a need to shut down every other machine when using these configurations.
Using carousels more often creates a better experience for your players and it meets or exceeds the distance you would have created between players by shutting down every other machine. Additionally, we believe a carousel configuration will increase the sense of safety from your players. After all, players have been self-social distancing forever and telling you all along this is what they want.
Option 1 - Turn off every other game:
Though this may not be the ideal solution for the player experience or the overall look and feel of the casino floor, depending on the availability of base parts, funds, how long you believe social distancing will last, and staffing it may be the best option for you. If you do decide to shut down every other game with little floor reconfiguration for your back to back banks, please see the below recommended games to shut off.
If you have a few extra base pieces for end caps and a little bit of extra space you could also consider changing some of your 8 or 12 pack banks 6 or 8’s with endcaps. This will reduce the overall number of games you would need to put out of service. For an 8 pack you would reduce from 4 games out of service to 2. For a 12 pack It would reduce from 6 to 4 and would give you the added comfort and performance of endcaps.
Option 2 - Remove some games from the floor and reconfigure remaining games:
If you do have the time, base pieces, labor, and funds to reconfigure your floor get creative. Below are 3 possible layouts of what a small 41’x90’ section of a slot floor could look like with social distancing.
This example is a basic layout that we see in a lot of casinos still today. Using the methodology from option 1 on what games to shut off in back to back banks we would get a total active game count of 98 out of the original 182 machines.
Assuming you would not need to shut every other game down because there is adequate spacing between the players in carousel configurations there would be 78 games up for play in this layout. You would need to physically remove 104 games from your floor, but this would only be a 20 game reduction from the 98 slots you would have active. This is a bit of an extreme example and most likely you would choose a combination of back to back banks with every other game shut down and carousels to increase the game count, but this is a good example of what can be done with the same square footage and a vast improvement in the player experience.
This third layout is a combination of both options 1 and 2. This layout still allows for 98 slot machines to remain active as there is in the first option, but would greatly improve the player experience and dramatically reduce the number of out of service machines in this section.
We have shown 3 quick examples of what a small section of the floor could look like but the possibilities are endless. With a focus on player safety and comfort now is the time to get creative with your slot layouts.
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