Let me clue you in to what it’s like for a hard-core video gamer like me to walk into a casino and try to throw my money away at video poker or roulette.
Every time I put a $20 bill in a machine, about two minutes in, I say, “This is boring. Where are the zombie Nazis I can kill with a quantum entanglement device — and where is my quantum entanglement device?”
So, I cash out, go home, and play “Destiny” or whatever, and I don’t gamble for two years.
A lot of Millennials — there are 80 million of them with more than a trillion dollars in purchasing power — do the same thing.
This is partly why multitasking young people aren’t attracted to rudimentary gambling.
I have been saying for years: Casino games need to be way more complex, like video games on Xbox, PlayStation and Android.
Well, guess what. Someone is working on that near-future.
Earlier this week, I had a drink in a very private VIP room in the Wynn with David Chang and Strip executives and politicos. Chang, formerly of the IGN video game news empire, is chief marketing officer for Gamblit, a company creating video games with real-money gambling modes.
Chang and I talked about how we don’t gamble.
“Come on,” Chang said. “Anybody under my age — I’m 41 — doesn’t really find slot machines all that attractive.”
Then he showed me a gambling video game on his phone. It looked like a left-to-right platform game.
“I’m clearing the level. And when I kill our little zombie cat, I’m presented with a chance to wager,” he said.
I asked him to describe the casino video game future of 2020.
“Ideally, you would take this system with you wherever you go,” he said. “While you’re waiting in line at Tao, or waiting for your girlfriend or boyfriend to get dressed, or while you’re gambling.
“We think it’s a little too much to ask to get these (young) people to change their behaviors to engage a gambling machine and sit down.”
Video game gambling apps would work like this:
You would download a free app game (a shooting game, puzzle game, word game, or role-playing game) on your phone in, say, Iowa.
You fly to Las Vegas. Your game app recognizes you are in a gambling-legal Wi-Fi zone and sends a notification to your phone, reading, “You can now play this game for real money.”
Theoretically, people could gamble on app games even at the airport, if the airport gambling operator wanted to take part.
“In Nevada, it has to be Wi-Fi constrained within a gambling establishment,” Chang said.
Las Vegas and America are already behind.
“In the United Kingdom, you’ll be able to do this online, anywhere you are, this year,” Chang said.
What’s the holdup?
“It’s a chicken and the egg problem,” Chang said. “They (software companies that create video games) are like, ‘What casinos are you installed in?’ We say, ‘We’re closing these deals now.’ They say, ‘Well, let us know.’ ”
And casinos need games. So Gamblit created the first seed games, like the one Chang showed me with the zombie cats.
Another consideration: We gamers need electronic wallets, like those in Android and Apple phones, to use as banks. Casinos could have e-wallets too.
It might take only 40 hours for game companies to add gambling modes to existing video games, he guessed.
And big game makers must take the plunge into legalities.
“It’s whether or not people want to get into the gambling industry. It’s all the ancillary issues,” Chang said.
Games that are free-to-download (but pay-to-get-extras) already make mad cash. “Clash of Clans” makes $35 million a month, Chang said.
Which casino players are interested in tapping in?
“All of the major publicly traded casino operators. Wynn, MGM, Caesars, all of them. When we demonstrate this stuff, they say, ‘How fast can you do it?’ ” Chang said.
“It’s an infrastructure challenge. Do you (a casino, or a customer) have an e-wallet?
“They’re doing this kind of stuff now, so I don’t think it will be too long.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.