Monday June 8,2015 : MILLENNIAL DEMOGRAPHIC WANTS MORE FROM SLOTS
Online punters of the future are looking for more interactive entertainment.
An article in the Washington Post over the weekend picked up on a developing trend that has already been flagged on several occasions in the industry – the slowing popularity of slots as the game of choice for the average punter, and the demands of the gambling demographic of the future, referred to collectively as the millennials.
The Post uses the state of Maryland as a typical example in the land business, claiming that over the past 15 months Maryland’s three largest land casinos – Maryland Live, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Hollywood Casino Perryville – have kicked 1,350 slot machines – 16 percent of the total – to the curb in order to make room for more table games, restaurant space, entertainment and other amenities, all of which are increasing in importance as interest in slots slides, particularly among millennials.
The experience in Nevada has been similar, with the number of machines declining from a high of 217,000 in 2001 to 175,000 last year as slot earnings have fallen by as much as 20 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
The trend has also been noticed in the online industry, where experts at several recent conferences have urged developers to be alert to changing tastes and react accordingly.
State governments need to be concerned as well; slots are usually taxed at a higher rate than other casino games, and the slide in popularity therefore has implications for them, too.
The Post hastens to assure slot fans that the genre is a long way from being abandoned, but it reports that the decline has motivated industry executives to consider how slots may be improved to better suit the demands of emerging demographics.
The article highlights recent legislative moves in Nevada permitting the development of interactive slot machines through the use of cutting-edge technology to meet the challenges of a younger, more technologically engaged visitor demographic.
Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law recently, allowing industry developers to come up with interactive products that more closely mirror video games and introduce some level of skill to the slot experience.
The newspaper interviewed Gamblit Gaming CEO Eric Meyerhofer to get the online perspective on the trend, and he opined that there is already a realisation in the internet sector that, whilst traditional slots continue to attract the late-forties to seventies demographic, the current machines have considerably less appeal for those below that age bracket.
In an environment where mobile technology is everywhere, and graphics, sound and animation technologies in general have reached new heights, the younger demographic expects more complex, entertaining and social action when they gamble.
“Everyone is seeing the same issue . . . the [current] products are not interactive,” Meyerhof said. “They don’t capture your imagination.”
Meyerhof says that some land casino operators are mulling the creation of "gaming zones" where gamblers can engage with socially interactive games that are quite different from the solitary slot experience, but still enable the punter to compete against peers and the house.