AP NEWS
Related topics

Casino Clock Breaks Taboo

September 18, 2000

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Casinos aren’t known for sure bets, but there’s always been at least one thing gamblers here could count on: No clocks inside casinos.

The omission is no design oversight. After all, if gamblers saw clocks, they might realize the time of day. And if they did, they might decide it was time to leave.

Now, a new casino room is breaking that taboo.

Coyote Kate’s Slot Parlor, a new addition to the Wild, Wild West casino at Bally’s Park Place, features a 30-foot clock tower in the middle of the room.

It’s the only clock in any of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos, not counting those in restaurants, retail stores and public spaces.

Bally’s floor-to-ceiling structure, which sprouts up out of a bank of 14 slot machines, features a four-sided clock face set inside a multicolored, Victorian-style tower.

The tower complements the rest of the room, which is themed after a 19th-century western town and includes storefront facades, a 30-foot-by-70-foot hand-painted mural, a bakery and a general store. It opened Sept. 1.

Executives at Park Place Entertainment Corp., which owns the casino, decided on the clock because the brick pillar was a key structure in the building and they wanted to dress it up.

``It was going to be there anyway, so the question became `What do we do with it?‴ said casino president Kenneth Condon. ``We thought a clock tower would fit the theme quite well, and it does.″

Park Place isn’t worried about losing gamblers who see the time on the clock and reconsider whether to keep dropping quarters in the slot machine.

``That’s strictly old-school casino thinking,″ said Wallace Barr, executive vice president of Park Place Entertainment. ``We think it’s consistent with everything else we’ve done in Coyote Kate’s.″

Lack of a clock may be old school, but it remains the rule in most casinos.

Brad Friedmutter, a casino architect with offices in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, said he knows of no other casino with a clock in it.

He said the clock taboo reaches back to the early days of Las Vegas, when casino designers sought to insulate their customers from the outside world.

``They wanted people to feel like time was irrelevant. It became one of those dream fantasies: Time doesn’t exist, the place doesn’t exist, it’s all part of the mystique,″ he said.

One by one, those traditions have fallen by the wayside. Exterior windows, another feature long avoided because they also can remind gamblers of the passage of time, have begun to appear in casinos over the last several years.

Is Coyote Kate’s clock the start of a trend? Only time will tell.

But Friedmutter believes it may.

``As these facilities incorporate more than just gambling, that’s a natural evolution,″ he said.

For their part, gamblers are hardly noticing. Most are well-used to the absence of clocks and wear wristwatches. Gamblers interviewed at random in the casino last week saw the clock only after it was pointed out to them.

``Who’s looking up at a clock?″ asked Norbert Meehan, 60, stopping in front of the $1 Slingo slot machines to crane his neck. ``I think it’s a good idea. People should know what time it is so they leave before they lose everything.″

____

On the Net:

Park Place Entertainment: http://www.parkplace.com

National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling: http://www.ncalg.org

AP RADIO
Update hourly