Let the Millennial games begin…

Jan 19, 2016 3:00 AM

Last year in response to industry request, as touted by the trade association AGEM, and with dreams of introducing slot games that those customers broadly categorized as Millennials would flock to play, the Nevada legislature directed the Nevada Gaming Commission to make modifications to gaming regulations and standards such that they would allow various forms of “skill-based gaming” to join traditional slots on the casino floor.

This past January 12, the critical technical standards that establish the rules of how the physical games are to work were sent for final industry comment and, barring real and meaningful challenges to those standards, they will become effective on February 15.

This does not mean that on February 16, we will all be able to line up and see these new skill-based games roll out onto the casino floors, but that manufacturers and developers of games will now know the final requirements their respective concepts must meet to obtain regulatory approval.

Since the direction of these standards were somewhat known, the slot manufacturers and developers were not sitting on the sidelines waiting, but were advancing their product developments in anticipation of the new requirements and will be ready for submission in the very near future. As comprehensive as the standards are, there are still some ambiguities about how account wagering will be used, which if not resolved earlier than later, may slow development of games that could truly be interesting to the Millennials.

Millennials are generally considered the generation born between 1979 and 1994, plus or minus a few years on either end of that range, depending on which demographer is running the study. Like every other generation, they eat, they drink, they have kids, they vote but where they depart from the predecessor demographics is technology.

They were raised on tech, they grew up texting, they have never used a traditional phone book and it is inconceivable to them to not be connected to either a cell or Internet network. They use technology to stay constantly in touch with everyone in their circle around the globe; they do not read instructions as they expect everything to be intuitive and would rather do a Google search or watch a YouTube video when they need to understand how something should work. Technology has conditioned them to be impatient; they do not understand waiting and generally believe their smart phones are not only for communication but entertainment, safety and financial transactions.

They did not grow up playing cards or checkers but did grow up with a vast variety of interactive games featuring individual and team play and that reward skill play. Their games are instantly available and could be played on the go or from wherever they chose to play. Because of these experiences and their expectations in the use of technology, they expect to be able to play games that reward skill, allow them to compete against other players and allow their successes or failures to be shared through social media instantly.

As a result of their experiences, they do not understand why they would have to play games in specific locations, why they would need to play next to someone who might be smoking, why they can’t buy into the game from their smart phone or why their winnings are not credited back to their online account immediately.

Their expectations are to be able to either walk up to a wagering game or download a wagering game to their smart phone, buy into the game from an online account, play against the computer and their peers, win money based on how they did against everyone else, post their results on their favorite social media platform and see their winnings credited to their online account. If they choose to play an interactive game on a conventional slot style device, they will want to be in a smoke free environment, suck down an energy drink, be able to see how their team or competitors are doing while playing them, and enjoy a social exchange via social media or personal proximity.

While the new tech standards are a good start for the gaming industry to pursue the Millennial generation as an emerging customer base for slots, they still have a long way to go to meet that generation’s expectations but have provided a great starting point for those gaming companies looking to crack into the Millennials as a market.

The Analyst is an experienced gaming industry executive who offers insight each week on events and issues affecting the industry. Contact The Analyst at [email protected].