Millennials will be tough to crack for casinos

Nov 14, 2017 3:00 AM

Probably one of the biggest challenges to the gaming industry is to unlock the mindset of the Millennial Generation and find their generation’s equivalent to the older generation’s slot machines. Some are approaching the challenge by just throwing things into the marketplace and see what catches on while others are simply trying to convert popular video games into gaming format.

So far nothing seems to have clicked causing some to think a slot machine game the Millennial Generation might embrace might be as mythical as a Unicorn, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster.

For about the last year I have spent a lot of time talking, questioning, surveying and studying various members of the Millennial Generation to try and get a sense of what kind of slot game, among other games, might actually hold their attention. In that time I have learned they tend to marry later, have children even later, hate debt, prefer group activities, relish new adventures they can share across the spectrum of social media and abhor repeated activities unless their immediate and extended peer group are willing to participate.

Some of these group behaviors relate to how a lot of them were raised. They have always had access to the internet, cell phones and at least a hundred channels of TV. They do not need to remember anything as most every aspect of their lives and required knowledge resides on a device that is never more than three feet away from them.

They played in groups where everyone received a participation trophy and group participation was seemingly prized over individual achievement. While as individuals they are willing to compete, they would rather the competition be their group vs. another group than the winners and losers being within the same group.

They are so used to getting something or being acknowledged for their efforts that actions that do not derive a gain of something or provide a story to share are generally considered a complete waste of time.

This last point is very important and provides an interesting insight. For example, during one encounter with a group of gathered members of the Millennial Generation I offered to buy pizza and was all set to call the nearest outlet of a national pizza chain. While the group was all for pizza, rather than pizza from the national chain, they all immediately started looking to see if there was a new place to try.

With blinding speed from the group’s deft use of their cell phones a new gourmet pizzeria was located and an order made. On delivery, rather than grabbing a piece and immediately starting to eat, discussions ensued about the box, the look of the pizza, the aroma and, of course, pictures and selfies were taken as if the pizza was a famous celebrity.

Before the first slice was taken Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Pinterest and other social media were updated, to be followed with further updates regarding the taste and responses to the envious replies to their original postings.

So much happened around the pizza I almost felt embarrassed about offering to buy a pizza from such a common provider. Point being, even the simple act of ordering a pizza in the millennial world is turned into a foodie adventure worthy of sharing with their social universe.

With this mindset, how are simple old fashioned slot machines, designed to be played by one person at a time over a period of time, supposed to exist?

Fact is they generally won’t. The seeming reality is the majority of the millennial generation is only going to play a slot-styled game as a person against the casino when there is nothing else to do and they cannot get a cell or Wi-Fi signal.

What they will do is gather in a group and take on another group, or become a part of a new group vs. another group and play team vs. team either for fun or money, and are happy to cheer on others competing as long as they have some form of social connection to someone on one of the teams – hence the appeal of team-based eSports and the throngs that follow them.

Perhaps the experiment the slot makers should try is to design a slot game that is played to earn entry into a team event or that can be directly bought into, and when enough players/teams are entered the match begins with groups playing against other groups for money and the casino simply takes a rake.

Till the mythical slot machine is found that appeals to the Millennial Generation, resorts will have to settle for them playing blackjack and roulette and enjoying the resort experience over the gaming experience.