Skill-based slot games and eSports – is this really the way to bring millennials into casinos?

  • Hosted video game contests attract new casino visitors
  • Casinos look to video games to improve engagement

Top casino brands are targeting the millennial market in an effort to improve their future profits, amid fears that their existing market isn’t getting any younger.

eSports is a growing industry, but doubts have been raised over its potential for punters after a cheater managed to slip through the net.
eSports is a growing industry, and casinos are looking at ways to bring the entertainment under their roof.

Many are turning to the video game industry, hosting eSports events and introducing video game gambling.

Atlantic City casinos have been leading the way in making changes, reports the Associated Press, with eSports tournaments proving profitable at Caesars Entertainment when they hosted a recent event.

Casinos need to attract new, younger players

Casinos are always looking for new ways to attract the younger market, with worries over millennials’ apparent limited interest in classic table games and slots compared with the older generations.

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The core group of over-45s remains steady, and casinos take most of their income from these players; however, this group is getting older and the casino industry will become unsustainable in future if it can’t replace them with younger players. Many brands are turning to video games to try and bring in a younger audience, either by hosting competitive video gaming events or by bringing in skill-based slot games that borrow elements from video games themselves.

It is hoped that by encouraging young people to spend more time at the casino, they will also spend more time exploring the casino games and taking part in betting.

Even if this does not work and casino games lose popularity, there are significant profit gains to be made in food, beverage and hospitality lines. Millennials are the largest group of travel consumers and they are willing to spend high on travel experiences. A number of Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have hosted video game tournaments or eSports contests recently, and they say profits were made on hotel rooms and suites, on food and drink, and on services and fees.

Caesars contest draws close to 1,000 attendees

In March, Caesars hosted Gears Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open, a video game tournament which attracted over 900 visitors to the casino.

Players traveled from around the country to compete for the $70,000 top prize, which was ultimately claimed by the OpTic Gaming team. These video game contests form part of a $700 million global eSports industry which the casino sector hopes to harness.

The video gaming market is one of the fastest growing industries among millennial consumers, along with travel and dining out – so casinos are perfectly placed to start taking advantage.

The Gears of War event at Caesars did not lead to an uptick in gambling revenues, which was expected, but it did improve sales of suites and rooms. Players and spectators also spent their money on food and drink, and on casino entertainment. This could be where future profits lie for casino brands. “Everybody’s still trying to figure out: how do you make this appealing for the consumer and make sense for the business?” said Caesars’ New Jersey president Kevin Ortzman.

Future of casino gaming

eSports is not the only way in which the casino sector is introducing video games.

Skill-based gambling machines are also poised to make an impact on younger players, adding a more competitive element to the traditional slot game.

These electronic gambling games mix random chance with player skill, with prizes awarded for high scores or for completing levels. It is thought that younger gamblers will respond better to these video game machines than to traditional slots or video poker, which are far less advanced and exciting than the modern video games they are used to.

But there is still skepticism over the concept, and some casinos, like Caesars have already tried the products without yet being totally sold on the idea.

But Caesars Entertainment is still trying trailblazing in this sector, having introduced some of the first trial machines earlier in the year.

Though the casino brand removed the machines at the end of the period, they remain open to working with game developers and introducing new gaming machines in the future. If they hope to start taking bets from their eSports visitors in the future, these skill-based games could be one key to success.

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