Video Games: A Future of Gambling?

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Written by Mark Kaelin

Move over one-armed bandits. FSP and side scrollers are muscling into casinos to appeal to the youngsters. A Mark Kaelin analysis.

aNewDomain — Good video games often require a level of skill and time to master, but some players are naturally better at certain games. That’s just how it goes. It turns out that advanced video gaming skill might come in handy: the Nevada casinos are looking at the possibility of implementing more traditional video games on the gambling floor.

Video Game Gambling

Casino stakeholders and the state of Nevada have noticed that, year after year, their customers get older. This serious and disquieting trend calls into question whether or not young people care about gambling, and if they will continue to do it the way their parents and grandparents have. If the answer is no, the casino industry has a major problem.
video games gambling starcraftBecause of this the Nevada State Legislature has considered a bill that would place games of skill — a fancy way of saying video games — in casinos. These games would probably not be exact copies of the video games we know and love, but they would imitate classics like “StarCraft” or “Call of Duty” to bring in new clientele.

Those one-armed-bandits of chance, or the digital dice roll, just aren’t cutting it anymore. The younger demographic is likely to engage more with a game that resembles what they grew up with. A slot machine with gameplay that mirrors the side-scroller “Super Mario Brothers,” or even a FPS like “Destiny,” would be a good place to start. If casinos present this option alongside randomly generated fruit that must be matched in the blink of an eye, they will certainly provide viable options for the younger crowd.

The House Must Win

Now, before you run out and begin to master a multiplayer FPS, remember that we’re still talking about gambling. Even if the games are based on “skill,” the casino will assuredly get its cut. That won’t ever change.

This opens up a great deal of creativity and innovation for game makers. The new casino-themed games must build and reward skill for every player, but they must also give the casino its cut. How exactly will that work?

In a multiplayer FPS scenario I could see this model: 20 players get together on the floor to play, each person bets $1 to play the game and the winners at the end, those with the most kills in-game, receive a payout. In this scenario the winner might receive $10, second place $5 and third place $1. The house would reap $4 from the contest. That seems reasonable, and a fairly decent payout for a $1 buy-in.

video games gambling royal flushThere are further social aspects that could be introduced to this sort of gameplay, too. A casino could host video game tournaments and have teams of players compete for prize money. This sort of thing already occurs in the League of Legends and DOTA world, so bringing it to casinos seems simple enough. It would be a lot like the World Series of Poker. Not only do the casinos get a payout, but they build reputation and tourism, and it could someday be a staple on ESPN. These possibilities are limited only by the imagination, and casinos have incentive to make this work.

The concept of adding skill to gambling games is not new, but the idea of modernizing those games to more closely resemble video games the younger generation is most familiar with is a new development. And, it’s a development that is long overdue. Now, I’m not likely to gamble on my skill at “Call of Duty,” but there are many younger players that I feel will most certainly test their mettle at such games. Are you one of them?

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First image: Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment used by permission

Second image: © ellisia / Dollar Photo Club

Featured image: © Dmitry Ersler / Dollar Photo Club