For generations, the slots have been a huge draw for older gambling crowds, especially the 50-60 year old range. With casino revenues slumping across the boards, many slot machine makers have decided to venture into new territory in hopes of attracting younger players to the reels. As such, the newest slots coming off the belt are infused with skill-based gaming options.
Merkur Gaming, a slot machine company out of Mexico City, is just one manufacturer that has already begun production on the new skill-based slot machines. An unveiling of prototypes took place in early October at the G2E Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are sleekly, if not futuristically, designed, some with an enclosed, pod-like seating structure that offers players a more comfortable and private setting to enjoy their wagering experience.
“This is a slot machine that doesn’t look like a slot machine”, explained Studio Head Edvard Toth of Gamblit Gaming, who unwrapped their own version at G2E last month. Toth showed off the new encapsulated product by taking it for a test ride at the expo. With the flick of his finger on the touchscreen, he was able to launch a slingshot that sent a virtual puppy, donning a policeman’s uniform, at a feline zombie that appeared further down the screen. If there’s anything that appeals to the younger generation of gamblers, zombies – that and touchscreen, video game style entertainment.
According to the producers of these new skill-based slots, the business strategy is to attract gamblers in the 21 to 45 year old range. As such, they are developing their machines around already popular social games like Police Pooch (described above and akin to Angry Birds), Dreadnaught (Battleship), Lucky Words (Scrabble), and Raze (Risk).
Traditional slot machines do not offer any real element of skill, aside from placing a bet that will produce a better payout. For instance, betting max on a progressive slot has the potential to unleash the full jackpot, whereas a smaller wager will not. Senior citizens are often drawn to the conventional slots for that very reason. Press a button, watch the reels spin, listen to the encouraging sounds and hope for the best. A few second later, do it again. It’s easily enough to keep the older generations entertained, but it takes more than that to draw the attention of players who grew up playing fast-paced, action packed video games.
According to Bally Technologies’ VP of Licensing, Jean Venneman, the real trick is finding the perfect middle ground. Traditional slots are popular among the 50+ group, while the 21-49 crowd prefers more action and dexterity. It’s not easy to please every, thus Venneman said, “I try to find things that are classic and current.”
In order to entice casinos into buying the new slot machines, as well as meeting the regulatory requirements of each jurisdiction’s gambling authority, makers had to ensure the presence of skill did not supersede the element of chance. Getting these games approved under the term ‘slot machines’ was the most difficult task, but Gamblit Gaming has already gotten the approval of the UK Gambling Commission and is currently seeking the same consent in Nevada where the company is already licensed.