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Toilets, Rugs and Slot Machines

Assessing the facilities at Macau casinos, and owning a piece of classic Las Vegas

Toilets, Rugs and Slot Machines

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about as we slowly emerge from corona-funk, now we have to plan our trips around our bathroom breaks.

Wait, that didn’t come out right. (And no, that’s not a pun.) By planning our trips around our bathroom breaks, I did not mean to make fun of people whose bathroom breaks have increased due to old age. Heck, these days I plan everything around bathroom breaks, from sleep time to, well, every waking hour.

What I meant was that now we have to make sure they have nice casino restrooms where we’re going to stay.

Hey, blame the Macau Gaming Research Association. According to the Macau Post Daily, research from the association’s Gaming Service Index for 2020 shows that the “toilet environment quality” at local casinos has dropped for three consecutive years.

Well, crap.

According to the article, the association made this determination based on the findings of “mystery shoppers,” researchers who secretly measured the service quality of restrooms at Macau casinos. They went to 15 “representative” casinos and, presumably, went right to the Starbucks for a bran muffin and an espresso. (Well, that’s what I’d do, anyway.)

At some point, the time would come, as they say, and they would secretly go and assess the level of quality in the toilet experience at each of the Macau casinos. According to the article, the mystery shoppers visited the casinos “twice—once at the beginning of October and the other time in November—and completed 1,248 samples.”

Samples? Yikes.

So the Macau gaming industry is funding toilet detectives. I wonder how you get that job. I can think of less pleasant ways to spend my work hours. Do they provide magazines? Although with Macau bathroom quality declining, I’m not sure I’m ready to switch occupations right now.

On the bright side, smiles are up in Macau. The same research that yielded the bad toilet news found that the service quality in Macau casinos was up, especially in the “smiling” category when dealing with customers. (I’ll wager this excessive smiling was most evident in casinos with the best restrooms.)

Hold the phone here. The employees all had masks on. For all we know, they could be twisting their mouths in a hideous manner under those masks.

It turns out they accounted for that. According to the article: “The statement pointed out that during the pandemic, the association used other measurements to assess whether facemask-wearing service providers were smiling, such as ‘bagging’ under the eyes and wrinkles on the side of the eyes.”

So, it appears anyone with a hangover would get credit for smiling. I wonder who decides. Does the association fund smile detectives to work with the toilet squad?

Moving on, you can now buy a piece of the El Cortez carpet they just ripped out. Evidently, they carved up the “beloved old carpet” into 16-by-16-inch sections for $19 each. They’re billing it as a chance to own a piece of classic Vegas.

First, as I noted previously, it’s not a piece of classic Vegas. It was installed in 2007, and torn up after 13 years. Liberace had been dead 20 years when the carpet was installed. Sinatra for nine years. It did look like it was from the 1930s, but that was probably a combination of the traditional floral pattern and 13 years of grime.

I get it. That carpet is a piece of one of the few Las Vegas casinos that still look like they did in the old days. Legendary El Cortez founder and original owner Jackie Gaughan still lived in the hotel’s penthouse when that carpet was laid. It’s a piece of Downtown Las Vegas history.

It’s also a $19 carpet square embedded with 13 years of grit, spilled booze, cigarette butts, vomit and God-knows-what-else. I don’t generally collect those types of specimens as souvenirs, so I’m going to respectfully decline, thank you.

Finally, elsewhere in Downtown Las Vegas, you can find a new slot area at the Plaza that carries an exclusive collection of the 16 favorite games of Brian Christopher, the YouTube “slot influencer.” Christopher is one of the top internet stars that have grown from the practice of streaming cellphone videos. They record themselves playing slots, and stream the videos to their YouTube channels, where they are watched by millions of fans.

I wanted to be a slot influencer once, but you have to be able to hold an audience in a game-show vibe as you play.

I can’t be perky while I gamble. Or any other time.

I guess I’ll stick with being a smile detective. (Beats the toilet squad.)

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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