GameCo Recommended for Licensing in Nevada But Jury Still Out on Skill-Gaming

Posted on: February 14, 2019, 12:24h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2019, 12:24h.

GameCo will soon be bringing its video-gaming-slots hybrids to the casinos of Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the company — which calls itself “the video game casino” — was recommended for licensing by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Steve Aoiki’s Neon Dream — a VGM based on the Las Vegas-based superstar DJ — is just one game that could be wooing millennials on the casino floors of Nevada soon. (Image: GameCo/Steve Aoiki)

GameCo made history when it when it launched the world’s first commercially-operational skill-based casino gaming machine, Danger Arena, at Harrah’s Atlantic City in New Jersey in November 2016.

The terminals — known as video gaming machines (VGMs) — aim to help casinos reconnect with the millennial generation, which is largely left cold by traditional slots and other casino games. The machines employ a similar financial model to slots, coupled with challenges that are more engaging to millennials, like first-person action, racing, fighting and puzzle games.

The titles in GameCo’s portfolio include Call of Duty, Nothin’ But Net, Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream and Terminator 2.

Variable Payouts

The major difference in the financial model of VGMs and traditional slots is that the latter offer “variable payouts.” Previously, all casino games had to give everybody the same chance of winning — by law — to ensure fairness. But variable payouts afford those who have become proficient at a game a higher chance of winning. Both Nevada and New Jersey had to tweak their gaming laws to make way for the machines.

This won’t be the debut of skill-gaming in Nevada. While GameCo was first in New Jersey, its competitor Gamblit launched in Nevada in mid-2017, at MGM casinos, Caesars casinos, and others.

But despite the oft-heard claim that the machines are the savior of casino gaming, early results were disappointing — possibly because the target millennials had to seek them out on the casino floor amid a sea of slots.

70 Percent of Casinos Want It

Caesars may have been the first to roll out skill gaming, but it was also the first to pull it at its three Atlantic City casinos — after six months — because the 21 GameCo machines it initially trialled had failed to make a profit.

Nevertheless, swathes of exhibition space at conferences like G2E and ICE remain packed with skill-gaming products, each promising to be the future of casino gaming, and the casino industry remains largely convinced.

A recent study found that 70 percent of casinos in the US were considering adding skill-gaming to the casino floor.

But for all the talk of attracting millennials and future-proofing the industry, many casinos are focusing on Generation X — those born between 1965 and 1980 — a demographic that is more financially stable.