Harrah's AC, one of three casinos in Atlantic City to get first "skill-based" slots on casino floor.
Harrah’s AC, one of three casinos in Atlantic City to get first “skill-based” slots on casino floor.

From Wayne Parry, Associated Press, New Jersey gambling regulators have “approved a New York firm to become the first in the United States to deploy skill-based slot machines on casino floors in which payout is determined by the player’s ability.”  The machines could start being installed at Harrah’s, Caesars or Bally’s, Atlantic City.

According to Mr. Parry, “The machines, called VGMs, are expected to undergo several weeks of testing, and are expected to usher in a new era of gambling aimed at attracting young people who grew up playing video games.

“With this approval from the DGE, the VGM is officially the first skill-based video game gambling product approved by any U.S. gaming jurisdiction regulator,” said Blaine Graboyes, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

Gamblit Interactive multi-player game.
Gamblit Interactive multi-player game.

The company has been in a race with rival firm Gamblit, which last month announced plans to put similar machines in California and Nevada in October, also at Caesars-owned casinos.  The machines are aimed squarely at millennials and those who like playing games on social media networks or on their phones, and who may be less inclined to play traditional push-button slot machines.

danger-arenaTitled “Danger Arena,” the games give the player a brief tutorial, make sure the customer knows how to use the controls and that they are working properly, and then presents the customer with a map, or game scenario. This scenario will vary randomly, and constitutes the element of chance or randomness that is the hallmark of traditional slot machines. It is then up to the player to maneuver through the playing field in 45-to-90-second increments.

GameCo’s product is essentially a video game, complete with an attached and “ruggedized” (designed to hold up for heavy, commercial use) video game remote control.

Here’s a look at GameCo’s promotional video explaining how its machines work:

Each game also includes a secondary random winning opportunity, with a possible instant cash win ranging from $1 to $5,000, Graboyes added, so that even poorly skilled players have a chance at winning, he said.

Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock, in his article for PlayNJ, explains how “skill-based” games work:

In a casino setting, the term “skill-based slot machines” is a bit of a misnomer, as casino regulations require all machines on the casino floor to pay out a minimum amount. GameCo’s machines are also played against the house (not peer-to-peer), so no matter how skillful a player is, the house will still have an advantage.  To reach the required minimum payout threshold, designers like GameCo have incorporated secondary “bonus rounds” where players are randomly awarded prizes to make sure even the most unskilled player crosses the minimum payout required by law.  In Danger Arena, this is a randomly-awarded prize ranging from $1 to $5,000 on top of the player’s payout from the skill-based portion of the game.

I’m still not convinced new gaming will be something that will stay strong throughout the next ten to twenty years.  But nothing ever stays the same in the casino industry.  Who ever thought 20 years ago I wouldn’t need coins anymore?

Binbin

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