Don’t Sleep On Skill-Based Games, They’re Gaining Ground Quickly

Posted on December 7, 2017 - Last Updated on December 8, 2017

[toc]It seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been just over a year since the first skill-based casino game, GameCo’s Danger Arena, made its debut at Caesars’s three Atlantic City properties in November 2016.

Since then, skill-based casino games have proliferated across the country, driven by the aforementioned GameCo, and a second skill-based company, Gamblit Gaming.

Several other companies have made some inroads on the skill-based gaming front, including gaming giants like Konami and Scientific Games. By and large though, it’s been GameCo and Gamblit that are leading the charge.

In just over a year, the two companies have placed their skill-based games in over two dozen casinos across the country.

Here is a rundown of where both companies’ skill-based casino games can currently be found.

GameCo

To date, GameCo has placed its VGMs in seven US casinos, mainly on the East Coast.

Those casinos are:

GameCo also has machines in two St. Maarten casinos, Jump Up Casino and Casino Royale, as well as Mundo Dreams Casino in Puerto Varas, Chile.

Because they have a slower game speed, skill-based games aren’t generating the same handle as traditional slot machines. A round on a skill-based game takes 5-10 times longer to play than a slot machine. So, even though they have occupancy rates on par with slot machines, they’re not the revenue generators slots are.

Because of this, GameCo machines have been removed from the three Caesars AC properties and more recently Borgata.

GameCo is trying to counteract this in two ways:

  1. Educating casinos on the value of a new customer.
  2. Increasing the bet frequency of its products.

In an October interview, GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes told Play USA:

“We just finished a report [where] we estimate that the lifetime value of a net new casino gamer is $35,000 – $40,000. That is a massive opportunity for our industry to grow the player base and the revenue opportunity.

“It’s really important to start to look at how are we going to change the decline and stagnancy around gross gaming revenue in general and slot gaming revenue in particular, and right now I don’t see a lot of other products in the market that have the opportunity to do that.”

During the interview, Graboyes also said that the next-gen GameCo machines will have bet frequencies similar to slot machines.

Gamblit Gaming

Compared to GameCo, Gamblit was fashionably late to the skill-based party.

Gamblit first skill-based game launched at Planet Hollywood in March 2017.

GameCo may have been first to market, but its Gamblit games, like the Model G tables and TriStation cabinets, that are spreading like wildfire.

These games can be found at 12 Nevada casinos, and have been picked up by casinos in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California.

Nevada locations

  • Planet Hollywood (Model G™ Table & TriStation™)
  • MGM Grand Casino Floor (Model G™ Table & TriStation™)
  • MGM Level Up (Model G™ Table & TriStation™)
  • The Venetian (Model G™ Table & TriStation™)
  • Caesars Palace (Model G™ Table)
  • Paris (Model G™ Table)
  • The LINQ (Model G™ Table)
  • Boulder Station (Model G™ Table)
  • Bally’s (Model G™ Table)
  • Flamingo (Model G™ Table)
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas (Model G™ Table)
  • Harrah’s Lake Tahoe (Model G™ Table)

Other locations

  • Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma (Model G™ Table)
  • Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Oklahoma (Model G™ Table)
  • Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Model G™ Table)
  • ​Tonkawa Casino in Tonkawa, Oklahoma (Poker Live!™ Felt Table)
  • Native Lights Casino in Newkirk, Oklahoma (Poker Live!™ Felt Table)
  • Harrah’s Resort Southern California (Poker Live!™ Felt Table)

Gamblit games can also be found on three cruise lines:

  • Celebrity Equinox Cruise
  • Ruby Princess Cruise
  • Grand Princess Cruise

The future

Skill-based games are still in their infancy, but it’s safe to say they’re going to continue to make headway for the following reasons.

  • The next-gen games GameCo and Gamblit introduced at G2E have yet to find their way onto casino floors.
  • Because the industry is in its nascency, companies like GameCo and Gamblit are still tinkering with and improving the user experience.
  • Education efforts are paying dividends. Casinos are realizing the value these games possess beyond handle, and customers are becoming more familiar with these types of gambling machines.

All in all, skill-based casino games look like they’re here to stay.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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