Creating the Casino of the Future

McCann Systems at The LINQ
(Image credit: McCann Systems)

Within Las Vegas’ dazzling aura of glitz and glam, it takes a lot of hard work and planning to create experiences that will stand out. The LINQ Hotel + Experience, located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, has zooming ziplines, magic tricks, Gordon Ramsay and Guy Fieri, and jackpots and interactive games—a lot of impressive options. When LINQ staff began planning the redesign the venue’s AV systems, they wanted to ensure guests would walk away with a similar stellar experience.

“A new, never-before-experienced environment was a critical feature of our redesigned gaming experience,” said Matthew Kenagy, senior director of strategic development—enterprise gaming, Caesars Entertainment.

“From a technology perspective, we knew that we needed a leading AV integrator along with a mix of tried-and-true products and emerging technology applications,” he said. “After a thorough search, McCann Systems emerged as the best AV integration partner for the project. When you are creating something that has never been done before, in one of the oldest buildings on the Strip, we knew we needed a group of partners that could be forward-thinking while being extremely flexible due to the numerous changes we would end up making as the project unfolded.”

Creating the Future

The teams at Caesars and McCann Systems worked closely together to craft a vision for the AV systems of The LINQ.

“The entire initiative revolved around the design and deployment of the casino of the future,” said Matt Wilson, CTS, director of marketing, McCann Systems. “We needed a working, real-life, first-of-its-kind prototype catering to the millennial casino patron and gamer. [We all] needed the project to be functional and work seamlessly on demand—and of course be a beautiful new technology.”

The project, which took about 16 months from design to ribbon-cutting, started off with the teams devising an interactive experience for casino guests. “From a design and technology perspective, we wanted our guests to feel immersed within the new environment,” said Kenagy. “We wanted to create ‘living artwork’ that would allow guests of the casino to interact with the atmosphere in which they played.”

Jackman Reinvents, who consulted on the project, had an idea. The firm was familiar with a media artist, Refik Anadol, a pioneer in the aesthetics of machine intelligence. According to Anadol, his body of work “locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines.” Once the Caesars team was connected with Anadol, they reviewed his proposal and knew he was “a perfect fit for the project and could create a truly unique experience that would set the tone for the entire casino,” said Kenagy.

Big, Beautiful Data

Anadol worked with McCann and Caesars to create DATALAND: LINQ, a synthetic reality experience woven throughout The LINQ’s casino interior and exterior. The “dazzling data sculptures” are displayed on various canvases throughout the casino including Unilumin LED screens, 3D LED sculptures, and immersive audience interaction zones. The overall installation is reactive and changes in a choreographed manner as guests enter the spaces, allowing visitors to be an active part of the art experience.

A major part of The LINQ’s guest experience is Refik Anadol’s DATALAND: LINQ. As patrons enter the property, they are greeted by a reactive installation that changes in a choreographed manner and allows visitors to be an active part of the art experience.

A major part of The LINQ’s guest experience is Refik Anadol’s DATALAND: LINQ. As patrons enter the property, they are greeted by a reactive installation that changes in a choreographed manner and allows visitors to be an active part of the art experience. (Image credit: Caesars Entertainment)

“We learned early on from our guests that the overall atmosphere was going to be equally as important as product development, selection, and design,” said Kenagy. “We wanted to build a casino floor that allowed our guests to be able to interact with their environment—allowing them to customize their experience and ‘choose their own adventure,’ so to speak.”

“From Refik’s incredible interactive DATALAND exhibit to the ability to control your own environment in our new ‘fan caves,’ we believe we were able to deliver on that vision and give our guests more control over their environment than ever before,” he added.

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“DATALAND: LINQ, my first project in Las Vegas and my biggest art installation to date, is particularly inspiring because it feeds directly off of the movement and sound of the people who are interacting with it,” Anadol said. “Having such a large canvas to display my work, and having it experienced by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, is nothing short of thrilling. Being an integral part of The LINQ’s technologically futuristic vision is truly an honor.”

The Best of the Rest

The interactive DATALAND experience isn’t the only AV that excites visitors here. From interactive and responsive touchscreens that create a cohesive bar-top underwater world, to six virtual reality bays where guests can become action heroes saving the world from enemy robots, to a gesture-controlled hologram game in the center of the casino, The LINQ is designed to impress.

But these stellar experiences wouldn’t be possible without the hard-working AV professionals who created them. “Without a doubt, [this is] the single most demanding and challenging project in my 19 years in the AV integration industry,” said Ken Newbury, senior vice president, technical sales and engineering, McCann Systems. “We pushed all of the boundaries in a building that was already built, and that we could not shut down.”

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With the property being open 24/7, the AV install team worked around temporary walls and pipe and drape. The team worked overnights when certain areas could not be diverted, and worked diligently to appease the fire marshals out of concern for overall safety and security of both the guests and the casino staff.

While challenges may have arisen, McCann and the team at Caesars stuck to the schedule to ensure the project would deliver. “Ken and the McCann staff, especially service manager Donte Smith, ate this project for breakfast every day for [a long] time—being flexible with design changes and customer needs along the way,” said Wilson. “Because of the bleeding-edge nature of these fixtures and this system, stakeholders would wake up with a brilliant idea, and we’d be forced to redesign, but the construction deadline never changed. McCann adapted and overcame the challenges for the client.”

Collaboration with key stakeholders, specifically structural partners like construction and architecture firms, were crucial to the success of this project, Newbury believes. Everyone came together on the logistics, ensuring that all new systems worked together quickly and correctly.

“From an operational perspective, we challenged McCann to give management the ability to update over 100 televisions and dozens of sound zones from a single tablet, and they delivered,” added Kenagy.

The staff at The LINQ wanted to create a sense of community on the casino floor. When a guest hits a jackpot, the AV is programmed to automatically celebrate the win with money raining down the LED screens.

The staff at The LINQ wanted to create a sense of community on the casino floor. When a guest hits a jackpot, the AV is programmed to automatically celebrate the win with money raining down the LED screens. (Image credit: McCann Systems)

One special touch has been very well received by guests. “When a customer hits a jackpot on the LINQ casino floor, the entire audiovisual experience changes to celebrate the win with our lucky guest,” said Kenagy. “From money raining down the walls and ceiling on the LED screens, to flashing spotlights and pathway lighting, the entire casino will celebrate your special winning moment with you.”

“There a lot of unique AV integration, like the jackpot, that you don’t see until the time is right, and even then, it’s automated,” Wilson said. “The LINQ wanted to create a community sense of winning via AV and we delivered.”

With more than 160 Samsung displays showcasing a range of content using Christie video processing; a killer sound system featuring JBL speakers, Crown amplifiers, Biamp DSPs, and a Williams AV audio server; and a state-of-the-art control system designed by Creston and McCann that allows casino management to “literally adjust the entire casino floor audiovisual experience in seconds via a touchscreen interface,” according to Kenagy, The LINQ is a Las Vegas destination that can’t be missed.

“Caesars Entertainment has been at the forefront of gaming and innovation for many years,” concluded Caesars Entertainment’s CEO and president Tony Rodio. “What you see here at The LINQ is a diversified selection of experiences curated for a variety of visitors and offers adults new ways to play. I could not be more proud of the hours that went into this project, with gaming, IT, operations, and marketing all collaborating to make The LINQ the epicenter of socially driven experiences.”

Editor's Note: McCann Systems team members who worked on this project included Frank McCann, Ken Newbury, Jason Patterson, Donte Smith, Brian Kerr, Frankie McCann, Jonathan Hoffmann, Trent Lorch, Amanda VanDyke, Christopher Ludwig, and Matt Wilson.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.