Once upon a time, sustainability and profit were considered mutually exclusive, but that was before 79 percent of US adults began to consider themselves environmentally conscious. It is no longer the case that casinos’ idea of going green is confined to green-tinted beer on St Patrick’s Day. Cindy Ortega, the chief sustainability officer of MGM Resorts International, one of the largest casino operators in Las Vegas, commented that many people wish to apply the green things they do at home, such as recycling, to their travelling.
The tables aren’t the only green things in Las Vegas
Sin City, with its 38.9 million visitors in 2011, is actually pretty green. The Las Vegas Strip has been hailed as a model community, environmentally. The Monte Carlo replaced the boilers used in pool heating with more efficient plate-and-frame heat exchange units. Lighting enhancements at the Bellagio, which has 2,568 rooms, reduced power consumption by the amount it would take to supply 500 average US homes.
Electricity is central to the operations of a casino. Studies have demonstrated that product differentiation is the key success factor for casinos. Comfort is produced from illumination, ventilation and air conditioning. Casinos require an uninterrupted electrical supply – a blackout is hugely costly. A casino can expend over five times as much energy per square foots as the average large hospital. In Las Vegas, casinos consume a fifth of all electricity.
Lighting accounts for as much as 30 percent of a casino’s electricity use, the largest single item. Obviously, natural light should be employed whenever possible. One way to make savings is to use LEDs instead of light bulbs, which can also apply to slot machines. Game machines generally use between 30 and 35 percent of all the electricity in a casino, and the 209,000 found in Las Vegas are usually in operation 24 hours a day. Occupancy sensors can reduce usage with the added benefit that less cooling of the casino floor is required. Lighting retrofits can lead to cost savings of up to 30 percent, resulting on a return on investment in two years.
Solar panels are terribly environmentally-sound, and one of the leading examples of their use by a casino is the Rincon Casino on the Harrah native American reservation in San Diego, which derives its power from a nearby solar panel farm – an $8 million project that was one of the largest solar endeavours by a private company, and as such was half-funded by the California Solar Initiative. If there’s no solar panel farm to hand, placing them on roofs can produce approximately 5 to 10 percent of a casino’s electricity – casinos tend to have much roof space. MGM Resorts installed the largest rooftop solar array in the United States – 20 acres – as its Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which produces 20 percent of the electricity used.
And last but not least, some casinos have slowly migrated online, using up energy on servers, but saving electricity overall. So today the growing number of environmentally conscious gamers can use online casinos for a responsible and a secure gaming experience.
Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”