Mission: Place AV Anywhere
Step into the Maryland Live! Casino and you’ll see, hear, and experience what its designers, engineers, and the casino itself intended – a hub of entertainment that gives guests the jolt of excitement they came for. The casino’s developer, The Cordish Company, went with a familiar partner to bring that vision to light. They had worked with system integrator AVI-SPL on Indiana Live! and Philly Live! (now Xfinity Live!), and enlisted us to work on this project as well.
“Our objective was to have the ability to place our digital media and/or cable TV service on any of the display screens without too much complication,” says Tom Hope, AV systems manager for Maryland Live! Casino. “It was important that the system be reliable.”
Action: Adapt as Plans Evolve
AVI-SPL handled the AV and lighting throughout the casino, including the theater, steakhouse, and buffet area. Our team installed hundreds of displays throughout the facility – from slot-machine displays to single-screen mounts to complex video walls like the one in R Bar, a high-tech lounge and gaming area. An RF cable system is at the heart of the video integration, one that allows for further expansion.
“It has exceeded our expectations. We hoped for the ‘wow’ factor, and we’ve achieved it.” – Tom Hope, AV systems manager, Maryland Live! Casino
Much of AVI-SPL’s work engineering and expanding the RF backbone was done on the fly during construction. As the project progressed, the layout evolved, affecting the location of each cluster of displays.
“RF is a robust way of delivering an HD signal,” says Will Parry, AVI-SPL VP of Sales. “It was a natural fit, and a cost-effective way to get the job done.”
“The RF system is cutting edge while still being ‘old-school,’” adds Hope. “It’s reliable and and gives us a lot more flexibility. I can put any signal anywhere.”
An entertainment venue in the middle of the casino — Ram’s Head Center Stage — includes Crown amplifiers and BSS processing that distributes sound via left and right clusters/under-stage subwoofers and then ties into the ceiling speakers (as needed) in adjacent zones.
This was a fast-track construction project, and the design evolved as the work progressed. Changes made to display locations affected the speaker locations and RF design. AVI-SPL was part of the creative process, working with Shannon Jelenek, the AV designer, and Gary Spritz, the construction executive for Cordish.
AVI-SPL completed the project on time, even as it worked on other areas, like the back-of-house system, training rooms, and executive briefing rooms with AV support. Part of the scope of work included banks of slot machines (nearly 4,000), whose displays would have to show denomination symbols as well as advertising.
“The schedule for the work is always the challenging part,” says Parry. “We pulled in a local subcontractor, Malstrom Electric from Baltimore, and put in 500 TVs in a week. “
Hope says that one of the best things about working with AVI-SPL has been the ability to contact the team members and have them come out on short notice as new facets to the project are added. That ability to grow was by design.
“AVI-SPL helped us build a system that already had expansion designed into it,” says Hope.
During the construction process it became clear that the design requirements for technology would continue to evolve right up to opening. To support these changes, the AV team worked hand in hand with management.
AVI-SPL was an integral part of the team and was able to deliver a fully functional system to meet or exceed the owners’ requirements. It was a fully collaborative effort, one where AVI-SPL was a trusted part of the construction team.
“The partnership been great,” Hope says of working with AVI-SPL. “They have the knowledge of the technology that’s available and how to integrate it. Anytime I have a question, everybody is very helpful.”
Impact: Getting the Wow Factor
The guest experience at the new Maryland Live! Casino is about more than calculating the odds and placing bets. It’s a visually intense experience built for entertainment, one where video displays dominate the 160,000-square-foot casino floor. Some of the displays deliver content specific to the games on the floor, while others feature digital signage and entertainment content like advertising for in-house events and live sporting events.
“The integration gives me a lot more flexibility and allows for instant changes and updates, even from my iPhone and iPad,” says Hope.
Inside the R Bar, over 100 LCD displays in an exploded array feature electronic games for the entertainment of patrons. Maryland Live staff use an AMX control system touch panel to easily call up various presets and select which channels should go on a particular display. Using the touch panels, bartenders have the ability to put channels on TVs around the bar.
For the nightly music concerts at Ram’s Head Center Stage, a high-output projector uses IMAG (image magnification) to show large-scale images of the performers or video content to augment the show. Maryland Live! handles its own content creation for the digital signage. The casino quickly can pull up what they want with a Contemporary Research control system, some of the content promotional, some geared toward entertainment.
“When we have promotional drawings, the screens on the casino floor switch over seamlessly to the screens the customers see in Ram’s Head,” says Hope. “It captures people’s attention.”
Minor jackpots can be zoned to particular areas. If somebody wins a major jackpot, audio and video are initiated to announce and celebrate the winner. The casino is working on implementing new ways of engaging with guests using the displays.
“For major jackpots, we’re introducing a Winner’s Wall, which will display photos of winners with their consent.” says Hope.
“It’s exceeded our expectations,” says Hope of the overall integration. “We hoped for the ‘wow’ factor, and we’ve achieved it. Guests who have visited other properties comment on the quantity and quality of our multimedia systems. They’re feedback is that it’s not overpowering, and that the music is at just the right level.”