Innovative Slot Machines Targeting Millennials Fall Short, Expert Says

Posted on: June 11, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2017, 09:45h.

Skill-based slot machines are all the rage in the gaming industry in 2017, but the new products, thought to be innovative concepts by some casino executives, won’t do much to attract the millennial, one expert opines.

slot machines millennial skill-based gambling
Skill-based gaming, video gambling machines, whatever. Strategist Rob Tercek says they’re all still basically slot machines, and that will do little to attract millennials. (Image: Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The American Gaming Association (AGA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently hosted a one-day conference at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. The meeting focused on trends and innovation in gaming, and which disruptive technologies have the best odds of shaping the future of the casino floor.

Keynote speaker Rob Tercek, who consults with executives in various industries on strategic initiatives, says when it comes to creating the casino of the future, the industry is severely lacking.

He opined that the games on smartphones have the ability to provide a much more entertaining experience than slot and skill-based video gaming machines found on Las Vegas floors.

“When you compare mobile games to the casino games, the casino games disappoint,” Tercek stated, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Players are now conditioned to play with a touchscreen or with augmented reality or virtual reality. To them, it (slots) looks like something that was designed in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s.”

Time to Make Slots History?

Tercek doesn’t appear to be a big fan of slot machines, at least for moving forward. He correctly pointed out that the reels featuring the cherries, bars, and bells dates back to the 1880s.

Though the machines that litter casino floors today are now mostly fully electronic, with new sounds and visuals, the fundamental concept is still the same: put in your coins, spin the reels, and test your luck. “When millennials walk through the casinos floor, what it’s saying is, ‘This is not for you. This is an artifact from a bygone era.'”

Gaming manufacturers are racing to develop a slot format that will appeal to younger audiences. But they’re still heavily relying on the tired yet proven reel concept.

Case in point, Scientific Games, one of the largest gambling products manufacturers in the US. This week, it revealed its first “slot machine with a skill-based bonus,” saying its “development team worked diligently” to make “certain that players are going to be captivated with this compelling new game.”

Not only does the Scientific Games “innovative” product still utilize reels, it’s also based upon Space Invaders, an arcade game that debuted in 1978.

Slots Remain, for Now

Though the future of gambling might not be slots, the fact of the matter is that the machines today still generate the majority of a floor’s revenue. Moving away from the moneymakers as Tercek suggests is easier said than done.

Over the last 12 months, slot machines have generated $7.26 billion in revenue across Nevada. That’s about 64 percent of the total money collected by casinos.

Somewhat surprisingly, is that the percentage of total gaming win represented by slots hasn’t changed much over the last 30 years. Perhaps the concern over the reels losing their muster is unwarranted.