It’s official; Video Game Gambling Machines (VGM™) are heading to Nevada. GameCo LLC announced the successful completion of the Field Trial for its Video Game Gambling™ platform in Nevada on Tuesday.

According to a press release, the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved the company to distribute and install new VGM™ Games in Nevada, which is the single largest casino market in North America. The news comes on the heels of their recent esports betting partnership with GRID.

“We are thrilled to complete our Field Trial and this a major milestone for a startup in such a highly regulated industry, we appreciate the support of our trial partners and the Nevada Gaming Control Board,” said Blaine Graboyes, co-founder and CEO of GameCo.

GameCo Successfully Completes NV Field Trial

GameCo machines debuted in Atlantic City in October 2016, but never caught on in the market. However, they have found a home in other jurisdictions, including California, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.

The Nevada Field Trial began in October 2019 at four casino properties – The Linq, MGM Grand, and Park MGM in Las Vegas, as well as Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa in Reno.

The Field Trial included two of GameCo’s VGM™ titles – Nothin’ but Net 2 and All-Star Hoops.

The Next Step in the NV Casino Market

In addition to the current titles, GameCo expects to offer other VGMs in the Nevada market, including:

  • Sweet Spot Golf
  • Destination Tiki, a Match 3 Slots™ game
  • Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream rhythm runner
  • Star Trek: Voyager

According to the press release, “GameCo also plans to release a first of its kind Multiplayer Arena™, which brings a new social experience to the casino floor with VGM™ machines allowing people to play head-to-head or esports-style tournaments.”

Are Skill-Based Games the Future?

Skill-based games like GameCo’s VGMs are often met with a mixture of skepticism and inevitability.

The inevitability comes from the understanding that the gaming customer is changing. Slot machines’ days are numbered, and skill-based games are one possible heir to their throne, or merely the next iteration in slot machines depending on your point of view.

The skepticism comes from industry types that point out the coin-in (or lack thereof) the machines receive primarily due to their slow pace of play. GameCo counters those claims by pointing to other metrics, like time-on-machine and the potential to appeal to a new, younger demographic.

As GameCo states in the press release:

“The results from GameCo’s Field Trial and additional installations support the company’s founding thesis that new and different games resonate and monetize with a younger millennial casino audience. Over 80% of GameCo’s “coin in” spending came from Millennial and Gen X players as compared to about 20% for traditional slot machines. Additionally, GameCo realized 12% or more uncarded play than other skill games or slot machines, pointing to a new player and new money. The outcome of the trial validates GameCo’s strategy of bringing a new category of gaming machine to the casino floor.”

Bringing in Incremental Revenue from New Customers

Graboyes has long touted his company’s ability to drive incremental revenue. In an April 2017 column in Global Gaming Business Magazine he made a case for adding other metrics:

Ask any casino executive what the most important performance metric for slot machines is, and most will answer “performance against floor average” of win per unit per day (WPUPD). For decades, this key data point has been used to rate and evaluate the performance of slot machines and their placement on the casino floor.

However, with the desire to engage a younger player base, a trend of stagnant to declining slot revenues and an ongoing reduction in overall slot positions, there is a new and critical metric for casino operators to consider—the potential for incremental revenue from “net new players” who to date do not gamble, often or ever, at slot machines.  

A Different Casino Experience

Given the current situation, it will be a while before we see how GameCo machines perform on Las Vegas casino floors.

As noted in a recent column, casinos are going to look quite different post-COVID-19. And these radical changes could be the perfect opportunity for GameCo’s VGMs.

There may be a decline in any gaming that involves crowds or even multiple players and dealer interactions. As such, when the COVID-19 lockdowns come to an end, customers (who are likely to be younger given the viruses impact on elderly populations) may be looking for new gaming experiences.

Younger players have historically avoided slots, but alternatives like table games could be seen as putting them more at risk to Coronavirus exposure.

The question is, will they gravitate towards skill-based games?

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