The Enduring Fascination of Casino Carpet – Vegas Seven

I’ve had a weird relationship with casino carpet for a long time. In my latest Green Felt Journal, I get the low-down from a real expert:

Carpets that adorn casinos look very different, but they are somehow easy to classify—a certain mixture of garish and gaudy that balances mirth with disorientation. This, perhaps, makes the public’s curiosity about them a little easier to understand.

Read more: The Enduring Fascination of Casino Carpet – Vegas Seven

Hopefully that clarifies a few things.

Vegas carpet in Wired

There’s another article about casino carpet available today–this is a little piece in Wired magazine:

“The carpets definitely play a big part in keeping the town as surreal as it is,” said Maluszynski by e-mail. “Thought has been given to the carpeting by people who want to create this special atmosphere, [one] that defines Vegas as a gambling city.”

via Ugly Vegas Carpets Want You to Keep Playing | Raw File.

I’m really going to update the essay that they reference to make it a little less tongue in cheek. On the Internet, no one can hear you being sardonic. I think I’ll add some more serious reasons why carpet looks like it does: mostly to hide stains and to jazz up a pretty big space. Thanks to Luxor and Aria, we’ve seen what less gaudy carpet looks like in a casino: funereal.

The urban legend that it makes you look at the machines is patently ridiculous. As bipeds with their heads 5-6 feet off the ground, humans generally look at about eye level while they’re walking. unless they’re hiking over treacherous ground. It’s not like our default mode to to stare at our shoes while we walk. The other legend, that it’s to hide chips, is flat-out stupid. Casinos want players to gamble their chips, not lose them. If a player loses money, or a chip, whoever finds it is supposed to report it to lost and found. If no one claims it after 30 days, they keep it. (At least that’s how it is in most places I’m familiar with.) If that happens, it’s a stone cold lock that the money’s not getting gambled at the casino. What kind of manager would want to encourage that?

It would be nice if casino carpet was really that mystical, but it’s really pretty common sense stuff if you think about it for a while.

Best carpet ever

If nothing else, today I learned that I’m not the only one with casino carpet as a wall decoration (three guesses about which carpet it is). I got an email from a gentleman whose father manufactured carpets during the 1950s and 1960s. He made this one for an unknown Las Vegas casino, and now it’s hanging on his son’s wall as art.

Unknown casino carpet

It’s definitely one of the more charming examples of the genre I’ve seen. Dated, yes; tacky, yes; fun, absolutely yes. I’d like to see more of this, but in a modern interpretation we’d probably get fake Ed Hardy designs galore. That would make the old Trump Plaza carpet look like a work of art. For some reason kitsch for the sake of kitsch is intolerable to me, but absolutely earnest kitsch is fine.

Anyone have any idea where this was from? From the turban and the musical instruments I’d guess the Sahara’s Casbar lounge, but I honestly am stumped.

Poker stacked

This is cool–a Tetris-like game that uses poker cards instead of blocks. It’s for the Xbox 360, and I’m posting about it here because the backgrounds were inspired by the carpet photos on this site:

Drop cards to create the best poker hand you can in each row. Earn more points for better poker hands. Don't let the board fill up

Xbox LIVE Marketplace | Poker Stacker.

I don’t have an Xbox 360, so I can’t vouch for the gameplay, but it looks like the kind of thing that could get addictive.

Encore carpet

At last I’ve gotten a chance to photograph the carpet at Encore. I didn’t make it into the mysterious sky casino (which was not on our opening tour), but I managed to get some shots of the high limit room. Neat stuff. Check it out on the Strip carpet gallery.


I’ve also tweaked my background a little, making it a bit less busy and incorporating some of the new images. Look for that to keep evolving.

Downtown revisited

Since I’ve been downtown on other business lately, I’ve had the opportunity to update, at last, the Downtown Las Vegas Casino Carpet Gallery. There are some neat things happening down there, and some not-so-neat things.

My favorite “new” carpet (since the last time I’d taken pictures) has to be the California’s: it puts a new, tropical spin on the floral thing. It’s nearly a perfect match for the place’s Hawaiian orientation–maybe a spare turtle or two would make it absolutely apropos:
The worst floor covering–it’s not even a carpet–has to be the Western. There’s a Strip of remnants from the Plaza recarpet, then faux-oak laminate or something:
It certainly fits the property, which must be in the running for “most downmarket” casino in town.
See these and much more in the Downtown Las Vegas Casino Carpet Gallery.

RGJ on casino carpet

The RGJ quoted me extensively in a piece on, what else, casino carpets last week. Here’s a sample:

Casino carpeting is a hobby for Schwartz. He has posted shots of casino carpets throughout the nation on his Web site They’re wild and bright and follow a Nevada tradition that at least dates back to places such as Reno’s Riverside Hotel Casino in the 1930s.

And the Peppermill? That carpet might be at the core of the concept that bad carpet is good for gaming.

“It is the essence of the whole thing,” Schwartz said of the Peppermill’s carpeting. “You don’t get rainbows and planets at most places.”

Peppermill officials defend their spaced-out carpet, although they say it contains a subtle reminder that the Peppermill may be the place where visitors win.

“People always don’t notice the rainbows in the carpet but they have a perception of good luck,” said Bill Hughes, marketing director. “Rainbows give us a sense of good feeling.”

And the black, purple and aqua background?

“There is a practicality side to it, too,” Hughes said. “You don’t want a real plain carpet because people drop cigarettes on it and spill drinks on it.”

Casino carpeting: Whats bad for the eyes is good for business | | Reno Gazette-Journal

The Peppermill really has the quintessential casino carpet.

And I have become the quintessential scholar of casino carpeting, merely by the virtue of having enough of a sense of humor about the whole thing to suggest that I am a scholar of casino carpeting. There really is no such thing; my “essay” on the subject isn’t really a serious academic essay so much as a modest proposal for future study into the field.

I’m starting to think that people might think that I’m really serious about the whole thing.

In that spirit, I’ve updated the Atlantic City gallery and moved several old AC carpets to the Hall of Fame.

Check out the new look for the Taj–as much as I like what they’ve done with the rest of the place, that new carpet is really bad. It’s actually a step back from the old pink and purple stuff, which I didn’t think was possible. Harrah’s on the other hand has put a real winner in–I liked it so much that I included an extra “bonus” shot at the bottom of the page. This is clearly the best carpet in town, and joins the carpet at Red Rock on the “I wouldn’t mind having this in (a very small area of) my house” list.

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but Bally’s might have the worst carpet I’ve seen in a while. I know someone said in the RGJ article that the Peppermill carpet looks like vomit, but the Bally’s floor literally looks like someone had too much pepperoni pizza and grape slushee and suffered what competitive eaters call a “reversal of fortune.”

New casino carpet

I’ve managed to squeeze in some time to update the carpet gallery. I’ve got new shots of the Excalibur, Luxor, Monte Carlo, Palazzo, and tons more in the Strip gallery.
I’ve also streamlined the downtown gallery and placed all non-Strip, non-downtown carpets in the Clark County gallery.

Plus I’ve added a Hall of Fame with old carpets and carpets from demolished hotels.

When I have the time, I’m going to make a trip downtown with the camera and get some updates down there, as well.

Casino carpet culture

The new issue of LAB magazine is out (its motto: A wunderkabinet of creative culture. With a cherry on top.), and I’ve got an article in it about my virtual collection of casino carpet.

I knew that if I kept this up long enough, I’d end up in the avant garde of culture and design.

Of course, I’m sandwiched between articles on a collection of macaroni and cheese and one on a pocket protector collection, which I think is right about where this belongs. Great fun all around.

Check out the article here.