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Are Skill-Based Games the Future of Gambling?

  • Written By Kevin Parker
  • Edited
  • Reading 6 minutes

Skill-based games have been somewhat timid in breaking into the highest echelons of gambling. They have faced their fair set of challenges with regulators not always viewing them fondly.

After all, isn’t the definition of the skill-based game somewhat wrongfully inviting players to gamble more?

As it turns out, though, consumers are rather happy to try their game at a product that arguably takes skill, decision-making, and just the right amount of luck.

According to a survey carried by Synergy Blue, an estimated 70% of all casinos are now planning to introduce skill-based games as they have a specific appeal to younger generations.

The reason behind this is very simple, a bid to attract new audiences and evolve the casino experience so it disassociates from any stigma.

The gambling sector has a lot to benefit from these new games, providing that regulators give their go-ahead. They already have in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City with the trend only growing.

The Benefits to Casinos from Skill-Based Games

Clearly, casinos stand to benefit from introducing games that offer players an opportunity to put their personal reasoning and deduction skills to turn a successful bet.

Based on Synergy Blue’s survey, players who engage with games that show a skill-based element tend to spend 55% more time on the device.

Synergy Blue's Survey result on device time
Credit: Taken From Synergy Blue’s Report on Skill Based Games

I’ve listed the link to the full Synergy Blue’s report here.

The survey cited 45% more diverse demographic, although some casinos have had to pull a machine off the casino floor, citing either poor net revenue or engagement. These games are trying to recreate the type of experience that electronic sports have brought on mobile and desktop.

Clearly, mass adoption is a double-edged sword. It’s coming, and casinos are afraid not to lose the love of Millennial and Generation Z gamers who prefer to stick with traditional video games or esports compared to slot machines. Even traditional gamers will insist on experiencing new forms of gaming entertainment, and skill-based games offer exactly that, Synergy Blue CEO Georg Washington thinks.

Put this way, skill-based games will guarantee casinos longevity and adaptability. Skillz, a mobile skill-based games platform, already generates over $400 million in revenue and has been called one of the biggest tech disruptors by CNBC/50.

How to Balance Between Generations

To become part of the present, casinos will have to evaluate how to best integrated skill-based games in their offer. There has been some reassuring news from industry meetings such as G2E and EGR, with gaming giants and industry leaders all taking a closer look at how they can innovate the experience for their players.

Skill based games difference between generations
How do you balance skill based games between generations?

Leander Games Chief Operating Officer Ramiro Atucha spoke to Inside Asian Gaming not so long, sharing an enthusiasm for skill-based games and arguing that they have a big part in the future of all casinos, delays in their adoption notwithstanding.

The main challenge, Atucha noted, was to find a way that balances between the amount a casino wins and the reward players derive. It’s not always about size, however, as players can develop an appreciation for a game, even if they don’t win too often.

Atucha also believes that the development of skill-based games has evolved sufficiently to provide both parties – consumers and casinos – with satisfactory results that keep everyone happy. However, the leap from this point to mass adoption would be somewhat of a challenge.

Developers Must Not Oversell

One of the reasons why skill-based gaming is not as widely adopted just yet is creating a bubble of expectation towards such games. While Las Vegas casinos wanted to see more of them introduced, and they spared a pretty penny pushing advertising, the games didn’t quite hit the spot.

In fact, according to Chris Grove, a managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming,

“the hype around skills-based gaming was so significant that I think it created a proportionate backlash.”

Chris Gover, Managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming

However, the Nevada Gaming Control Board seems confident about the adoption of these games. In 2019, NGCB Chairwoman Sandra Morgan argued that she felt like skill-based games were coming to casino floors.

Grove also cautioned that unlike with video gaming where all new releases are immediately embraced by the community, provided they meet specific prerequisites, in online and land-based gambling, there are no games that are “immediate hits.”

Speaking at the UNLV Gaming and Hospitality education series, Morgan, also pointed to the similarities between skill-based gaming and electronic sports which are increasingly popular, driving a steady demand.

Interestingly, there has been some overlap between esports and poker already, with the two seemingly different activities already sharing the same arenas for production purposes.

Engineering the Future of Online and Land-Based Gambling

One particular medium in which skill-based games can be particularly successful is online gambling. There is a fine line between esports, social games, and gambling titles these days.

future of skill-based casino games
What could the future of skill-based casino games be?

Naturally, all of these must be defined in a very clear-cut manner that allows regulators to safely okay their release to consumers.

However, while the land-based sector may still appeal to the older generation when it comes to gaming, online casinos are in a unique position to really stand out from the crowd and bring something more to the table.

The adopting of online skill-based games will naturally be quicker as people who game online are already used to experiencing different video games, be that gambling games or esports, and the addition of something new that holds a promise of letting you determine how successful you can be throughout the gameplay is a big hook. Besides, the market is already beating all expectations with the figures headed for $18882.85 million by 2027.

More Innovation Coming to the Sector

With adopting skill-based gambling, land-based and online casinos will go through more changes as well, adding more advanced technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

These are another source of consternation and excitement for casinos and regulators as they promise to revolutionize the segment but at the same time, they have raised some concerns about addiction and responsible gambling.

One thing is certain, though – the future of casinos will depend on skill-based games.

Kevin was raised on sports since a young teen and following a (fortunate) injury pursued new hobbies in table games such as Blackjack and Poker. Since 2009 Kevin has been writing for casino sites for various big names in the industry and CasinoSites.us is but one of his latest passion projects.