At MGM Resorts properties, customers give gaming’s future a spin

Tables resembling giant smartphones have grown so popular inside The Mirage, Bellagio and MGM Grand that content providers are clamoring to put their free-to-play gambling products on the devices.

Recently, Reno-based Spin Games added its slot machine, video poker and bingo games to the tables, which already offer blackjack and slot machine titles provided by the myVegas social casino application.

MGM Resorts International views the tables — which were manufactured by an Australian company — as a way for its customers to test-drive gaming’s future.

However, it may be a year before real money can be wagered on the multiplayer tables.

“This is one more step in our strategic initiatives that will revolutionize how Generation X and Y experience our properties,” said Tom Mikulich, MGM Resorts’ senior vice president of business development. “Our ultimate goal is to convert the ‘free to play’ games to ‘real money games’ in early 2016.”

Mikulich wouldn’t be surprised to see tables, or a variation of them, eventually find a home on the slot machine floor.

Last week, Nevada’s gaming regulators took the initial steps in developing rules designed to save the state’s slot machine industry. The new regulations could make Mikulich’s prediction come true.

Fueled by the passage of Senate Bill 9, the Gaming Control Board — with input from gaming equipment manufacturers and interested parties — began developing the language governing “skill-based gaming,” which would add arcade-style video components to the traditional slot machine.

Imagine “Space Invaders” meets “Wild Cherry.”

Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett figures the regulation drafting will take a multiple steps. But the working elements, which marry games of skill with games of chance, are sorely needed for a product that could become obsolete unless it starts attracting a younger demographic.

“Can the one-armed bandit reinvent itself?” Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Andrew Zarnett rhetorically asked the investment community in a research report this month. “There is no doubt that gaming, specifically the slot machine, needs a face-lift.”

That makeover is supported by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, which backed the bill. The measure, signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, allows for “hybrid games,” where a combination of chance and a player’s skill determines the outcome of a jackpot.

In the past few years, the casino industry has targeted millennial customers — young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s — by offering entertainment amenities (nightclubs), dining (trendy restaurants), and edgy retail (tattoo parlors and brand-name clothing designers).

Where the casino operators have fallen short is in gaming.

“(Casinos) have failed to get millennials to spend their dollars on slot play, in any meaningful way,” Zarnett said.

Data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show baby boomers represent 35 percent of Strip visitors. Millennials account for 25 percent and growing. Zarnett expects millennial visitation to surpass baby boomers visitation by 2020.

Skill-based slot machines could be a key attraction to ensure millennials gravitate toward casinos.

“Players will now have the opportunity to be part of the game, improve their odds and thus ultimately lengthen play time,” Zarnett said.

Millennials have become acclimated to playing games for free on mobile devices, including social casinos. The market was $2.8 billion revenue business in 2014, Eilers Research reports. Players often spend nominal fees to acquire virtual gaming chips, such as 99 cents for thousands of tokens.

The trick is to convert those free play customers into real money gamblers. That’s where skill-based slot machines and the tables inside MGM properties come into play.

Besides offering social games, the 42-inch screens let customers watch television, access social media and check on their fantasy sports teams. The tables also serve as a “virtual concierge” that customers can use to buy show tickets or make restaurant reservations through their MGM player loyalty program.

For now, they tables been located in high-customer traffic areas not traditionally associated with gambling, such as lounges, nightclubs, dayclubs and bars. One popular table at The Mirage is inside the Roasted Bean coffee bar.

Zarnett believes skill-based game integration could be the spark to jump-start a slot machine replacement cycle “which has been a stupor for many years.” The last big movement to switch out older slot machines with newer models came more than 10 years ago, when ticket in-ticket out cashless gaming was introduced.

So far this year, the biggest slot machine supplier news came a week ago. International Game Technology said it placing 400 games at Penn National Gaming’s Plainridge Park in Massachusetts while Scientific Games Corp. sold 2,000 slot machinelike video lottery terminals to the Oregon Lottery.

New Jersey and several American Indian tribes have experimented with skill-based slot machines. Zarnett said Nevada’s entry was critical because it gives manufacturers a potentially large market.

“Since the Great Recession began in 2008, the supplier space has faced declining demand year after year,” Zarnett said. “For gaming operators to achieve improved revenue growth, they need to attract more patronage and play from the millennial generation.”

Skill-based games and tables like the ones at MGM properties are a start.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at or 702-477-3871. Find on Twitter: @howardstutz.

Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like