A look at new skill-based slots and other skill-based gaming machines
I’m Steve Bourie author of the American casino guide For the past 25 years. It’S been the number one bestselling book about casino gambling and travel and the only book that comes with more than $ 1,000 in casino coupons. Each month we upload a new video about how canadian online casinos accepting entropay work, how you can win. So if you want to learn how to be a better gambler, be sure to subscribe to our channel and don’t forget that we have a free, app, just search for American casino guide. In the App Store or Google Play Store to download it to get details on all U.S, casinos plus tips for playing and free casino coupons, Hi, I’m here with Marcus Prater, who is the executive director of the Association of gaming equipment manufacturers, which is also known as Agem and Marcus has invited us here we’re at the Konami showroom.
We’re gon na ask marcus some questions and the first is what is AGEM, and what does it do? Agem is a non-profit trade organization that represents all of the major slot machine companies, the systems, companies tables lotteries anything that a casino needs our members produce. So basically all of the slot machine manufacturers. Would you say every major slot machine manufacturers, a member of your organization, Every one In the world?
Okay, now they’re here in nevada in las vegas, there was Senate bill nine, which your organization was behind, and could you explain what that is and why your organization supported it? Well, senate bill nine passed last year in the Nevada legislative session and at the heart of it it allows for variable pay back on slot machines, which has not been allowed or done anywhere in the world and by allowing for variable pay back on slot machines. It creates the opportunity for manufacturers such as Konami Bally, IGT aristocrat, all the big guys and the smaller ones, to create new content that would bring skill based and arcade elements to the casino floor for the first time.
Ok, now for the people who aren’t familiar with how a slot machine works, can we give an explanation of how traditionally right up until this point, how a slot machine works if anyone walks up to the machine? Generally, I assume, based on the research we’ve done, and the videos and all the people we’ve interviewed. They all work. Basically, the same Casinos sent them by the denomination, so the higher the denomination, the more the machine is set to pay back. So the penny machines around 88 to 90 percent quarter, machines 90 to 92 dollar machines, 92 to 94, 5 dollar machines 95 to 96.
So when someone walks up to the machine now, every time they push that button, the payback percentage basically is the same for everyone who plays that machine. That’S correct in any machine, basically on the planet, in a legal, regulated jurisdiction. If you sat down and played a machine – and you put in your 20 bucks and then left and I came and put in mine, we have to have the exact same pay back odds percentage and that’s how it’s always been done.
But under that scenario it sort of capped, the ability of the suppliers and the game developers to create exciting new content and that’s what Senate bill. Nine was meant to change, and, and we’ve done that and now the control board and the Commission here in Nevada, have approved the regulations and the technical standards that will govern these new kinds of slot machines. Okay. So now, when someone goes to a slot machine, if it’s skill based their pay back, might be based on their skill in playing a game Now at G2E this year we saw some of the major manufacturers.
I think it was Scientific games which is bally had space invaders, where, if you got into a bonus round – and if you wanted, I think you had the choice to either have a skill based version or just a random based version, and you could actually play space Invaders Now Konami had another game which were we’re standing at here now. This is Frogger so for Konami they want to possibly have a skill base version, but again it’s in the bonus round. Well, we we haven’t seen the Konami skill based version, so we’re not quite sure what it’s going to look like, but again for those of those players out there that grew up in a certain generation.
Like myself, Frogger happened to be one of my favorite arcade games. Growing up as a teenager and into college and so forth, and and and it’s basically, you know – you use a joystick to try to negotiate frog across a busy highway. Well, under this new world order, you could put the skill-based element into that joystick, and so let’s say everyone gets an 88 percent base, pay, no matter how good or bad they are on getting the frog across the highway.
But if you’re particularly good at doing that, you could, you could theoretically boost your pay to say 98 %, and so the idea is for the first time. Players will know that they will have a material effect on the outcome of the game and a material effect on how much money they can win. Ok, but now this particular one again we’re going with sort of older traditional games that people are familiar with and their bonus round or, however, whether the bonus round or the main game, their payback percentage would be affected by how well they played this game. But there are other manufacturers out there who are coming out with different kinds of games.
There’S one called Gamblit gaming, which are much more they’ve. I guess I skew to a younger audience and then there’s one called nanotech gaming, where you can play electronic pinball and how do you see those being different than traditional slots? Well, it’s that’s the beauty of SB nine and variable payback percentages. It allows the game developers the operators, the suppliers to create variable pay back based on a wide variety of identifiers, meaning that you could have a pure arcade-style game where you go into the bonus round and if you’re good at Frogger, you win more money, you can Have a Gamblit game which is more like an Angry Birds, Words With Friends, style game, which is more of a something we’re used to with iPads and tablets and so forth. You can have a nanotech, pinball type game. You can have tournaments.
You can change the percent based on. If it’s your birthday, you put your card in it, says: congratulations! This base 90 % game for you today is now 98 %. The operators can reward better players by giving them a higher payback.
That’S the beauty of SB9. It’S not just skill based it’s giving variable, pay back to players based on a wide variety of identifiers. Alright.
Now I hate to point this out to you, but slot players are a very suspicious group. We have a website. People come they post things all the time they say. Well, you know I go in the casino I was sitting at that machine. I was winning all this money and then I’m sure somebody in the back room flipped the switch, because I couldn’t win anymore.
So people are always suspicious so now do you know what kind of safeguards would be in place for people who say well, I was playing this machine and somebody did something to change my outcomes. What kind of safeguards to do you foresee to prevent stuff like? Well? It’S very simple: the regulations as written, don’t allow you to change the percentage within a game.
So it’s not like you know. It says on the screen and by the way the player will will be fully aware of everything. It will say. I’M sorry that was one question I had when you come up.
Let’S say what the payback percentages is, Because traditionally slot machines do not. You have no idea what they’re set to pay back. So, with a system like this, where it could be variable, will there be some way for the player to know what they’re getting If it is a variable and again you know for those players who are really slot machine aficionados. I encourage you to go to the the Nevada Gaming Control Board website, which lists all the regulations that have been approved. But the answer is yes: if there’s a base game, that’s ninety and you can win up to 98. The machine will tell you that If it’s your birthday and you put your card in and it’s a 90 % game, but you can get 98 during your birthday, it will say that so for the first time, players will know what the percentage payback is and what It can be, and that’s again, a dramatic shift.
That’S that’s never been done before. So I understand that the suspicions of the players, but we pushed during the regulatory process for complete disclosure and the control board, will demand it and the players will know it Now. When do you think these machines will be in actually in the casinos, because now the Gaming Commission is still looking at the technical standards?
Well, so the technical standards will become final final on February 11th, 2016, and that’s really the final bit of language that the suppliers, the game developers, need in order to make sure their games conform to the new rules. To answer your question, it’s hard to say I would say by midyear, we’ll see the first of these types of games in Nevada, but overall this will be a very slow rollout. I mean there will be hits and misses. We don’t know what the players will like.
It’S a collaborative process with the control board and ultimately our goal is to take this beyond Nevada, so that if a machine company like Konami, spends all this R & D time and money to get a game like Frogger with a skill-based element out that it can Be sold in markets other than just Nevada and New Jersey, New Jersey, to give them credit as well. They claim that they can do skill-based games today and that the regulatory process is in place, so they don’t need to change the state law in order. Do that, but at the end of the day for players to really get to experience this, it needs to spread beyond Nevada, and I do think that if we have this conversation in five years time, you will be amazed at what will ultimately be on the casino Floor, The reality is that the the slot machine has not changed dramatically only because of the regulatory confines that the manufacturers have been operating in now that this variable pay back is out there. It opens up a flood of new creativity, and it’s just it’s it. The logical next step as we as we try to attract the Millennials and people who are used to gaming they’re gaming on their phones or gaming, on Xbox they’re gaming, on tablets and and right now.
They don’t show a real desire to go to game in a casino environment, and this is the the step that will get us closer to that goal. Alright and if people want more information on AGEM or perhaps the progress of the machines being approved, where would they go to get that information? Agem.Org is our website with some background on this effort, and then I would encourage those folks to also go to the Nevada Gaming Control Board website, which lists all the language the rules the players can can see. You know the rules that the machine companies will have to conform to, and it’s great reading, it’s for those people who like to play slots and are interested in where all this this new creativity is going and that’s a good resource as well.