17 Jul

Australia evaluating Skill Based Pokies in US

Skill based pokies could work their way into Australia casinos following regulatory evaluation.

Skill Based Pokies GameCoIn recent years, skill based pokies (or slot machines, as they’re known in other countries) have been a scalding hot topic. Manufacturers want to be among the first to build them. Casinos want the right the install them. Regulators want to scrutinize them thoroughly before signing off on anything.

The United States was the first to act on it. Skill based slots first appeared in Atlantic City casinos when regulators in New Jersey moved quickly to approve them. Shortly after, the arcade-style games were welcomed in casinos around Las Vegas, Nevada. They’re also found in California and on some casino cruise ships.

All the while, proponents of skill based gambling machines lauded their ability to draw millennial gamblers to the gaming floor. The latest generation of gambling-aged adults has been the hardest to attract in over a century.

Manufacturers of these games believe the skill factor will make all the difference, working like a magnet to bring in players in the 21-34 age range. They play more like an arcade game, or console video game, coming equipped with controllers similar to that of Xbox.

These games include everything from single-player shooter and racing games, to multi-player match-3 and card games. They mimic the immensely popular games millennials grew up on, like Call of Duty and League of Legends, Need for Speed, Candy Crush Saga, etc.

Australia Evaluating Skill Based Pokies

Australia is a much more gambling-centric nation than the US. Poker machines line the walls of pubs, clubs, hotels and casinos all across the country. Gambling is enjoyed by the vast majority of the adult population. If millennial players can’t be bothered, it could put a significant dent in government revenue.

With that in mind, AU gaming regulators are looking closely at the efficacy of skill based pokies in North America. Should they fall in line with gambling laws here, and successfully harvest the latest generation of gambling enthusiasts, it may not be long before these arcade style poker machines make their way to The Land Down Under.

However, Australia is also home to an ongoing anti-pokies campaign. Crusaders for that cause are already arguing that skill based pokies could lead to a higher rate of gambling addiction among Aussies.

Sally Gainsbury of University of Sydney’s gambling research and treatment clinic is always quick to weigh in on addiction-related matters. She believes the implied ‘skill component‘ of skill based pokies could create an “illusion of control” that could cause more harm.

“People essentially think they have a strategy, that they are better than other people, and they will continue to play in the hope they have a big win,” said Dr. Gainsbury.

“If you have betting machines that have an element of skill, the concern is that people will not have an understanding of where skill is involved and what comes down to just chance,” she continued. “And they could think that the more they practice the better they may get.”

Skill Based Slots A Hit in the US?

Gamblit Skill Based Video Gaming MachineAt the same time, Gamblit, a company that supplies skill based gaming machines to appropriately licenced operators in the US, called them a phenomenal success in Las Vegas and California.

“We are averaging players nearly 20 years younger than those of a slot player,” said Gamblit CMO Darion Lowenstein. “We’ve had interest from casinos and other potential partners all over the world.”

But are the games really attracting that many players? In Atlantic City, the new skill based pokies were a complete failure. The three Caesars-owned casinos that spearheaded the installation movement have already removed them from their gaming floors following a costly trial period.