Casino Sign

Casinos are typically large areas located in a large hotel or multi-use complex that contain gaming tables, casino personnel, and equipment, such as roulette, blackjack, slot machines, dice game (craps) tables, poker tables, etc.. Some may be multi-floor and some have side areas for special gaming, bars, restaurants, and show rooms that are often located adjacent to the main floor. Adjacent administrative offices, cashiers, money counting rooms, and security monitoring rooms may also be included in the casino area. Architecturally, casino designs use ornate facades with high ceilings and a generous dispersal of mirrors in order to enhance the appearance of grandiose, wide-open spaces.

Some are floating, located on barges, riverboats, or off-shore vessels. These must also comply with the regulations of the US Coast Guard and building methods of a shipyard. [Ref: HPAC August 1997 p. 45-53]

Regardless of location, casinos also require a complex energy system design in order to provide power, light, complete environmental control, fire/life safety, water, telephone systems, and communication lines. They are often operated 24-hours a day, every day, and occupancy can vary widely. Areas with slot machines especially have a high floor load. Security systems and personnel are also a major consideration.

Energy Use Information

The two main energy users are lighting and HVAC - specifically cooling. The lighting load constitutes a large percentage of the cooling requirements, so the HVAC loading tends to be fairly flat. Typical casinos will have an average hourly usage in excess of 600 hours per month.


During peak occupancy hours, casinos can have a high latent load. Controlling tobacco smoke is the most difficult problem, as smoking is often allowed, and this requires good filtering and odor control, with large amounts of fresh air for ventilation.

Typical System

Usually part of a larger facility, the casino areas typically use a multiplicity of air-handling units served from a central chilled/hot water plant in order to serve the wide HVAC load variations. All-air systems with multiple speed fans and/or VAV systems are commonly used, with provision for operating with 100% outdoor air.

The smaller gaming areas may have infrequent high peak loads. They are typically handled with individual air-handlers, roof-top units, or from a VAV system.

Floating casinos typically use water-cooled chillers, rejecting heat into the river or seawater. A refrigerant head-pressure control may be needed, depending on the temperature variation of the water. Special seawater condenser tubes are usually used in order to resist corrosion. Heating can come from boilers or multi-stage electric duct heaters, depending on the vessel location.

Energy Saving Recommendations

Central plant designs may also incorporate heat recovery, thermal storage, and other energy conservation opportunities such as variable speed drive on water pumping, and temperature reset on chilled and hot water distribution circuits. These complexes are also excellent opportunities for a central control system for fire, smoke, security, maintenance control and operations, and energy management.

Suggestions include:

  • Older and/or inefficient systems should be upgraded or replaced, particularly if CFC refrigerants are used
  • Continuously monitor the amount of smoke in the room in order to determine whether the fresh air dampers are fully open or if flow has been reduced to the design minimum
  • Implement any energy conservation concepts discussed above that are not already in use
  • Innovative ventilation systems like electric desiccants, heat pipes, or enthalpy wheels may be recommended

Water Heating

Hot water is used for food preparation and cleanup, employee locker room showers, and restrooms. Hot water consumption varies significantly among individual facilities. Pleas refer to the section on the specific application for more detailed information.

Consider heat pump water heaters wherever the casino and the associated hotel are connected. The best design may be to install water source heat pumps in order to supply the casino cooling and then reject the heat removed to a water-to-water heat pump at the hotel.

Most water heating is done separately from the building heating system and uses direct resistance or gas heaters, and, in some cases, point-of-use heaters.


Casino Lighting

Most of the lighting in a casino is supplied by the games themselves. The use of bright flashing lights and mirrored walls can provide all the light necessary. Where additional light is needed for blackjack, poker, and other gaming, incandescent lighting will usually be the light of choice. However, fluorescent lighting should be used whenever it is acceptable to the owner.

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