In the earliest days of video gaming in Illinois, getting patrons to play was largely just a matter of setting up the machines in your location. The novelty of video gambling and the limited number of licensed establishments during the first few years of legalization meant that people were eager to try these games wherever they could find them.
That’s no longer quite as true. Now, there are more licensed establishments than ever before in Illinois, and hundreds of them are parlors and cafes that cater solely to video gaming players. With that kind of competition, how can a bar or restaurant stand out?
For starters, you can set your location apart by setting your video gaming area apart. That means having a dedicated space for all of your video gaming terminals, or VGTs, that’s at least somewhat separate from the other activities taking place at your establishment (such as drinking, dining, playing pool or darts, and so forth). If your bar or restaurant admits people under 21, then you’re legally required to physically segregate your video gaming area. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to create a distinct video gaming area within your establishment to minimize distraction.
Once you’ve decided to create a clear-cut video gaming space within your location, what can you do to make it more appealing to patrons? Here are four key elements to consider as you design your video gaming area:
As you’re planning the layout and overall size of your video gaming area, it’s important to note that you’ll be accommodating more than just the VGTs themselves. You’ll also have a redemption machine/ATM, chairs for players to sit in and possibly, tables for them to put food and drinks on. Plus, you’ll have the players themselves in there, who will be moving around from time to time. Make sure they can do so comfortably, without invading each other’s personal space.
To keep players relaxed and engaged with the games, reduce the number and volume of the noises around them. Some establishments might put soundproof walls up around their video gaming area, but that’s not always necessary (or feasible). This might also be accomplished by identifying the quietest area of your location beforehand, or turning the sound down on the TVs or music during peak video gaming hours.
If you put up new walls or other barriers for a video gaming area, bear in mind that the space will need to have good air circulation and maintain a comfortable temperature for gamers—as with Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold. The VGTs tend to generate heat, so the area could become stifling if improperly ventilated. (And if the air and temperature throughout your location isn’t right, then you’ve got an even bigger challenge to contend with.)
Too often, owners rely on the overhead lights they already have or sunlight coming in through the windows to illuminate the space. This might work in some cases, but don’t just assume it will. When the machines are installed, examine the area to ensure the lights aren’t so bright that they create a glare off of the VGT screens, or so dark that some players get drowsy and nod off. And then adjust accordingly.
Planning a space for your video slot machines takes time and energy. Luckily, your Terminal Operator can assist in the process and optimize your location.