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To get young people gambling, casinos embrace video games

To get young people gambling, casinos embrace video games

July 6, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

"Millennials have grown up in an era of digital media and games. The passive experience of a slot machine does not resonate with them."

- Gamblit Gaming CEO Eric Meyerhofer, speaking to the New York Times.

Casinos are looking to attract younger customers with skill-based gambling games that resemble modern video games, and the New York Times is on it.

While this isn't a new phenomenon -- Nevada passed a bill allowing Las Vegas slot machines to include skill-based, video game-like mechanics last summer, and skill-based first-person gambling games came to Atlantic City casinos in May -- the Times' feature is worth reading because it includes some interesting commentary from stakeholders in Las Vegas' budding skill-based gambling game industry.

"The majority of visitors to Vegas are under the age of 50, while the majority of those who play slot machines are over 50,” Eric Meyerhofer, CEO of gambling game platform operator Gamblit Gaming, told the Times. “Casino operators are seeing 100 percent of their floor wired for a population group that is no longer the majority.”

Part of Gamblit's business involves working with game makers to develop special versions of their games that can be played in casinos with real-money stakes. Meyerhofer points to the company's ongoing work with Wicked Witch to adapt its mobile game Catapult King to a casino game, and suggests that in the near future many gambling institutions will also expand the scope of their traditional sports betting services to encompass eSports -- a significant shift that's already underway at some Las Vegas casinos.

But the Times also sought comment from a researcher at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and his thoughts on the issue are intriguing.

"Video games are just an instrument here, but they signal that casinos are going after weaker targets," research associate Tomar Perry said. "The point of failure in games is to provide an opportunity for growth — to develop skills, and get it right the next time. If a game is house-backed, it’s not even letting you do that."

You can find further comments from Perry and Meyerhofer, as well as some deeper insight into the way American casinos are trying to attract younger blood, in the full New York Times article.

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