Why do casinos have ugly carpets?

There are many rumors about casinos. One I posted about earlier is the belief that casinos pump in oxygen to encourage people to gamble more. (It's not true). Another rumor focuses on the carpets in casinos, which are often noticeably ugly. The theory is that there must be some diabolical reason why they're so ugly.

David Schwartz, a historian of gambling, writes, "Casino carpet is known as an exercise in deliberate bad taste that somehow encourages people to gamble." He's collected an extensive gallery of photos of casino carpets.

There are four main theories to explain the carpets:

1) Colorful carpets better hide the stains (blood, vomit, etc.)

2) The carpets have subliminal themes and messages in them that encourage gambling. Schwartz (again) writes, "Many of the carpets use flowers and wheels, both suggestive of a cyclical life: flowers bud, bloom, and then die, and their beauty is only ephemeral. The wheel was famous to the Romans (note its prominence at Caesars Palace) as a symbol of the relentless capriciousness of fortune. Could both be subtle reminders to casino patrons that life and luck are fleeting, and one should eat, drink, and be merry before the morrow brings a swing in fortune?"

3) The ugliness of the carpets encourages people to look away from the floor and up at the gambling tables.

4) The intricate patterns are designed to conceal chips that gamblers accidentally drop. The High On Poker blog writes, "Rumor has it, casinos make lots of money with a machine not traditionally on the casino floor: the vacuum. The rumor goes that every night/morning during clean-up the vacuums pick up all sorts of chips that have fallen on the casino floor. The kaleidescope vomit [pattern] with its reds ($5 chips) and greens ($25 chips) would serve as a perfect way to fool patrons into losing their dropped chips."

I think theories 1 and 4 are the most convincing. I've accidentally dropped chips on a casino floor, and it is hard to see them amid the swirling patterns. (via High On Poker)

Urban Legends

Posted on Fri May 23, 2008


I agree that 1 and 4 are the most plausible. I remember when the Wynn opened in Las Vegas and I was disappointed in the hideously bright colorful carpet and decorations. I expected it to be a little more toned down.
Posted by DC  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  09:00 AM
All those theories ignore the most likely reason: style.

The most expensive rugs aren't solid tan medium pile with scotch guard, they look a lot more like those casino carpets. Carpeting with patterns like that is also a lot more expensive, so part of it is a show of wealth and style.

So while many might think they're ugly, the carpets are are ostentatious, expensive, stylish, and flashy; a perfect fit for most casinos.

I'm also inclined to believe hiding stains is a large part of it as well.
Posted by Crazy Ivan  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  09:09 AM
The carpets are patterned the way they are in order to freak you out during a bad acid trip.

Hasn't anyone read "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"?
Posted by KDP  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  09:21 AM
Theory number 1 is the only one that makes much sense to me.
You see similar boldly-patterned carpets in places like hotel ballrooms and lobbies, big restaurants, convention centers, and theaters, where covering stains is the only one of these objectives that would apply.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  12:20 PM
I don't discount the possibility that 1 and 4 are in part true but I don't think that they are the reason why casinos have ugly carpets.

Casinos are obviously designed to be disorientating: Loud, lots of flashing lights, vague signs, no easy flow from point to point, no view of the outside. You are presumed to want to come there, then the disorientation helps to keep you there. The "ugly" carpets are simply part of the disorientation.
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  12:35 PM
"Disorienting" not "Disorientating".
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  12:37 PM
It should be worth noting that buying an "expensive" carpet is not really in Casino's best interests. The carpets are generally changed every 5-7 years. I think durability is more important.

Frankly, I think #1 is the most likely scenario. More patterns make it easier to clean up messes. #2 makes a lot of sense also. The carpets do tend to have circular and flowery designs, as well as stars, which also suggests the loftiness and "reach for the stars" attitude encouraged by casinos.

Disorienting carpets would actually work AGAINST the casino. They want players to be comfortable.
Posted by Jordan from HighOnPoker  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  01:25 PM
Patterned carpets, like patterned drapes, remind us of the ostentatious wealthy types.
Posted by Joe  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  02:17 PM
It's number three. The ceilings are shiny so they reflect the activity of the gaming, and the floors are just simply not as bright or visually exciting. But all the other explanations are logical. It's just that I'm right and you all aren't.
Posted by Garv  on  Sat May 24, 2008  at  10:18 AM
I like the carpets...
Posted by Sakano  on  Sat May 24, 2008  at  12:37 PM
Before I'd worry about an explanation, I'd like to verify that there is something in need of explanation.

Are casino carpets generally uglier than those in any other comparably large building? Hotel lobbies, gigantic office buildings?

Uglier by whose taste?
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  on  Sun May 25, 2008  at  03:59 PM
it isn't any of these reasons folks. The reason is simply that it hides the many cuts and re-glues done as the slot machine banks are rearranged.
Posted by Dcrusoe  on  Sun May 25, 2008  at  05:30 PM
My vote's on the Vomit and Blood theory... I have similar patterns on my car seatcovers, and it seems to work... I also have a pair of undershorts with Paisely patterns, for much the same reason
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  03:31 PM
I think it was PBS that said that the bright ceiling and busy carpets keep people focused on eye-level things- the machines etc. Do Casinos want people to be comfortable? Or rather do they want to impart the need for restless activity?
I like Dcrusoe's cut and reglue theory-it would help with the blood and vomit too.
Posted by luci  on  Tue May 27, 2008  at  11:18 AM
According to a friend who's just returned from Vegas, the New York New York smells of cheese - all the time.
Posted by Nona  on  Thu May 29, 2008  at  05:24 AM
Who cares why the carpets are so ugly. Next time I go to a casino, I'm looking for chips on the ground!
Posted by Sergio  on  Mon Jun 23, 2008  at  05:34 PM
Honestly, I always thought that the carpets were just simply a matter of bad taste with a lot of money. The casinos wanted to look "rich" and so bought hugely expensive carpets.. but didn't have enough sense to buy something that was actually classy.
Posted by Rami James  on  Sun Jul 13, 2008  at  03:59 AM
The worst part about the carpets is that they are very very smelly. Think about all the smoke that goes through them everyday, and the amount of feet stepping over them everyday.

They hardly change the carpets as most casinos are 24/7 and it would affect the business
Posted by John Dee  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  12:00 AM
I think they are all good points. My mum always likes dark carpets because they hide dirt. Casinos spend a lot of money on getting people to play, so I'm sure it is to make more money.
Posted by casinos  on  Fri Sep 12, 2008  at  06:29 AM
They always keep them dark to hide dirt easier. The patterns i dont know but just get a flashback from that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas scene where the carpets just go insane on Johnny
Posted by tobias  on  Thu Apr 02, 2009  at  11:49 AM
Who cares why the carpets are so ugly. Next time I go to a casino, I'm looking for chips on the ground!
Posted by Codes  on  Wed Apr 22, 2009  at  10:18 PM
great 😉
Posted by James Adams  on  Mon May 11, 2009  at  10:03 PM
Your blog is very useful information for me.Thanks...
Posted by suratem  on  Wed Sep 02, 2009  at  06:30 PM
a gambler does'nt look into the ground, he's eyes are always on the casino chips..so who cares if casino carpet are dirty or ugly ... :coolsmile:
Posted by Poker games  on  Tue May 11, 2010  at  10:50 AM
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