Walk into virtually any casino in the world and you’ll be confronted by the same sight: line upon line of slots games with flashing lights and bleeping sounds designed to entice you into playing them.
You’ll probably also notice something else about them. Players tend to be older with some research suggesting that 58 is the average age of the slots fan.
Now the popularity of slots is great news for casinos. They provide the perfect alternative for people not confident enough to take on table games like roulette and craps and are definite money-spinners too. So, without the need for a dealer or any other kind of human intervention, they account for around 66% of a casino’s profits.
Sounds good, but there’s a catch. With so many businesses of every kind trying to attract the elusive Millennial market, casinos are no exception. Unfortunately, the standard slots game just doesn’t seem to push the right buttons for this particular demographic, maybe because they too associate them with older player pumping in cash with only the random chance of coming up with a big win. Admittedly, this can be a potentially very big win if it ever comes to pass.
There is a theory that it’s this very randomness of result that may be a reason why younger people don’t see the point in slots. They’re a generation that has grown up with the idea of empowerment and being in charge of one’s own destiny, even if the world also throws up many challenges in their way.
They’re also members of e generation in which video games have come of age as well as being an increasingly accepted cultural phenomenon. For example, even so-called serious newspapers now contain reviews of the latest games when they are released.
This desire for control and the popularity of video gaming have come together to create what casino operators hope will become the answer to attracting the younger generation to become customers – skill-based slots.
Admittedly, the very first of these machines have only started to appear in land-based casinos while leading online operators such as Wink Slots are yet to introduce skill-based slots. But have no doubt, they will be watching closely to see how popular these prove to be. After all, go on any online casino site and you’ll see the huge range of different slots aimed at particular groups whether they’re film or sports fans, prefer traditional-style slots or want ones with animations, bonus features and exciting soundtracks. So any more targeted games are sure to prove popular..
As you’ll have guessed by now, the skills needed for one of these new slot games are exactly the same kind that are used in video games and their effective deployment can mean bigger prizes according to how well a particular task is accomplished. This may be to knock out a wave of aliens in a Space Invaders-style game or to play a form of digital pinball to give just two examples.
The psychology behind games of skill
To understand just why these sorts of games may be particularly appealing, it’s worth taking a moment to look at the psychology that lies behind people’s preference for games of skill and those where chance takes on greater significance. In the case of the former, some people, and not just control freaks, tend to feel that more comfortable when they are in charge of a situation. Yes, there’s greater responsibility to arrive at the best possible outcome, along with the power to influence the result. Those who prefer to rely on luck, on the other hand, tend to enjoy putting their fate into the hands of others to see what will happen.
To use an analogy, there are people who like to drive fast and feel the rush of speed that they can control and there are those who love the exhilaration of roller coasters and don’t mind putting their trust into the hands of others to supply their thrills.
Of course, these are not facets that are exclusive to Millennials. There are also many people from all age groups who would also prefer to use their skill to win a game instead of relying on pure luck, particularly as the satisfaction of winning may be all the greater when one has played an active part in it.
Some caveats for casinos
Having said this, there are also a number of considerations on the part of the casinos that have to be taken into account when it comes to introducing more skill-based games. This is because casinos run on the principle that they can statistically calculate how much a standard slots game will earn them and how much it will return to the player on average. This information is recorded as a slot Return to Player, or RTP for short, and is expressed as a percentage that can range from 75% up to around 95%. Because this is built into the algorithm that runs the game it can be calculated very precisely.
But when the extra element of skill is introduced it makes it almost impossible to predict how much people will win from a game, and just as difficult for the casino operator to work out whether the game will be profitable for them.
Another side issue may come from the fact that the law often treats games of skill and games of chance very differently and this may cause online and land casinos to alter their terms and conditions in the light of this depending on how much skill is involved.
So far there have been conflicting reports about the popularity of skill-based slots and many observers agree that any initial success they may have had could be due to their novelty value. It’s only after a couple of years that a true picture will emerge about whether they are managing to attract a new and different kind of player.
But one thing is for sure, online and land-based casino owners alike will be watching with great interest to find out.