Skill-Based Slots Miss the Mark with Millennials

Danger Arena Skill-Based Slots by GameCo

Danger Arena Skill-Based Slot Machine by GameCo

In 2014, casino operators and games manufactures brainstormed ways to attract millennials onto the gaming floor. What they came up with were skill-based slot machines. A few years and untold millions of dollars later, the results are nothing short of disaster.

Millennials are today’s newest generation of could-be gamblers, born in the 1980-90’s. For the last century, casinos have had no trouble attracting each new generation onto their gaming floors. There was always something new and exciting to bring them in, whether it be a new twist on old table games, or technological advancements in slot machines.

But millennials have proven to be the toughest nuts to crack. Having grown up on fast-paced, action-packed, PC and console video games, they don’t find nearly enough entertainment value in the games currently on offer. They are seen as antiques for an older crowd.

Skill-based slot machines were thought to be the perfect solution.

Timeline for Skill-Based Slots

In order to make it work, legislators had to rescript gaming laws to allow for skill-based slot machines. The old laws referred to slots as ‘games of chance’, with no skill involved. Drafting amendments, getting them approved by various bodies of governments, and into the official law books took quite some time.

With that done, manufacturers immediately went to work developing these new games, following the newly scripted guidelines. The goal was to create an arcade-like experience, with a programmed payout rate that matched traditional slot machines.

Next, the games had to be submitted to regulators. Their job was to make sure the new slots games met the prescribed legal description.

Once all of this was done, the skill-based slots were finally installed in land-based casinos. New Jersey was the first to reach this goal in November of 2016.

The first approved skill-based slots were developed by GameCo, who signed a contract with Caesars Entertainment to place them on the gaming floor of Atlantic City’s Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s casinos.

Too Little, Too Late

Nothing left to do but wait for the millennials—and revenue—to start rolling in! But that’s not what happened at all. Here we are, seven months later, and all three of those casino resorts have already removed the skill-based slot machines from their gaming floors.

More than 20 of these new slots games had been installed at the properties. According to Caesars Entertainment SVP of Gaming Melissa Price, they failed to make enough money to even cover the vendor costs.

“We all understood that we were learning and experimenting,” said Price. “It was a big learning experience for all of us.”

She attributed part of the failure to the fact that, “People have to come find the games in a sea of 1,500 slots.” However, the real issue runs so much deeper.

It’s not simply a matter of connecting millennials with the new skill-based slots. It’s a matter of taking too much time to get from point A to point B.

When the idea for these new slot machine first came along, it could have been a success. Instead, in the three years it took to come to fruition, millennials became mobile gamers. They stopped playing PC and console games, and began playing games on their smartphones and tablets. They have access to social games, AR and VR games, higher paying slots, lower stakes table games; everything it would take many more years for land-based casinos to deliver.

For the risk-takers among them, mobile casinos offered everything they could hope for. Hundreds of slots titles, every theme imaginable, stellar graphics and animations, all packed into a device they carry with them at all times. A quick touch, tap and swipe gives them access to everything. That’s something land-based casinos simply can’t compete with.

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