The Origins of Slot Seating in Las Vegas

Look at any Vegas picture of the casino floor in the 1950’s and 60’s. See the old fashioned, pulley slot machines and imagine the clanging of coins hitting metal and the “ding, ding, ding” of someone getting a triple 7… It brings nostalgia to the minds of those not even born to the era! However, you can’t help but notice one jarring difference between the 50’s casino and the modern casino when evaluating the pictures… where is the slot seating?

Chairs are completely missing from the 1950’s casino floor set-up and patrons are standing as they play nearly shoulder to shoulder. Looking at these pictures begs the question: When and how did chairs become standard on the casino floor?

Someone else was just as curious about this as we are and asked Anthony Curtis (the Las Vegas Advisor), a world renown authority on Las Vegas and gambling, to shed some light on the origins of chairs in casinos. Here is how it played out:

“Q: (Curious Player)

I was looking at some Vegas pictures from the ’50s and ’60s and there were no seats at any of the slots. When were seats put on the casino floor for slot players? Which casino was the first to do so?

A: (Las Vegas Advisor)

We’ve consulted several historians, but have been unable to pin down when or where the practice of sitting while playing slot machines first took root. (As recently as 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven, you can see stand-up slot machines.) We do know that some casinos had already adopted the practice in the 1950s.

Gary Platt, head of the eponymous manufacturing company that now dominates slot-stool supply, recalls a fateful visit to Las Vegas in January 1959, at which time he was representing L&B Manufacturing. Based in Santa Monica, California, L&B specialized in booths, tables, and counter and bar stools for restaurants.

Platt was playing blackjack in Vegas “and noticed that the stools were not nearly as well constructed or as comfortable as the bar stools that we manufactured. As a salesman, this looked like a new source of business, so I tried to call upon the hotel casinos, without any success. The answer was, ‘We purchase all our gaming equipment and supplies from Paul Endy at Paul-son Dice & Card. I contacted Paul, had a great meeting with him, and learned that the stools must be narrower, so that seven of them would fit around a blackjack table. The seat also had to be shorter, so the player sits closer and, most important of all, the seat height must be 27 inches [vertical], so players are comfortable. I told Paul, ‘These are all things we can do’ and made him a few samples. Paul-son began to distribute our blackjack stools and did a nice volume of business for us.”

Platt couldn’t shake the feeling that if similar stools were placed in front of slot machines, it would increase time on device (the holy grail of casino floor managers). However, he always ran up against the same answer: It would make the aisles too narrow and there would be no room for players to walk past.

“I kept bugging Paul to find some small casino that owed him a favor and would listen to me. He finally called me and said to come up and meet with him,” Platt resumes. “It was a small casino on the Strip near Flamingo [Road] and I can’t remember the name. I knew I’d get the same ‘aisles too narrow’ answer, so I came prepared with a large pad and a 12-inch square drawn on it, and told the casino manager that I would manufacture 24 stools with a 12-inch square seat and three-quarter-inch square-tube legs that went straight down so they wouldn’t trip the players. I’d drop them off and pick them up in two weeks: no cost, no obligation.”

As a favor to Paul Endy, the casino owner reluctantly agreed to the experiment. Platt delivered the stools and two days later received a call from Endy: “How soon can we get another hundred stools?” The coin-in on the slots that had stools had been “astronomical.” Over time, as the big boys in the industry adopted the practice, Platt’s business boomed and casino floors evolved to have wider aisles and more seating.

Thus, like so many trends and traditions in the history of Las Vegas, a major change in casino design hinged on one owner sufficiently daring to take a chance. ( September 20, 2016 – Question of the Day)”