Millennials are a notoriously difficult demographic to attract, because growing up with digital media has made is so that their tastes and preferences are vastly different than previous generations. In an effort to attract millennials, businesses have had to look at what’s popular with them and then figure out how to work those things into their own products and services, with varying degrees of success. Fortunately for the gambling industry, attracting millennials might be as simple as transitioning from chance-based games to skill-based ones, and making casinos more like arcades.
Forget slot machines and money wheels. American casinos may soon look more like video game arcades. In February, Nevada and New Jersey passed legislation allowing for the introduction of skill-based games in casinos as a way to draw in younger players. Imagine Angry Birds and Candy Crush machines next to a high-stakes poker table at Bellagio. The idea is that one day, different types of skill-based games will exist on casino floors, including games that look and feel more like console video games, from shooters to racing games. They could be games where single players go against the house, cooperative games like blackjack, or player versus player games like poker. Eric Meyerhofer, the chief executive of Gamblit Gaming, a California company that makes skill-based games for casinos, said the biggest attractions could even be well-known franchises like Call of Duty. “It won’t be a sea of slot machines. You’ll see smaller, more intimate areas with specialized themes,” he said. Dr. Tony Alamo, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, said the speed with which the legislation to introduce skill-based games in Nevada passed — it was introduced in January 2015 and was signed in June the same year — is a testament to how hungry the casino industry is for something new. “Everyone feels the urgency,” he said. “I’m hoping that next year, the whole floor will be full of these games.”