When one talks about gambling, it is almost certain to include slot machines. Slot machines have been in existence for several decades. The one-armed machines have had several evolutions in response to the changing times. Whilst the early machines did not have huge payouts, they were extremely popular. In fact, many of them paid out chewing gum, cigars, and even free drinks.
Despite the many changes machines have undergone over the years, the basic premise of the slot machines did not change much – only the execution such that reel based machines became obsolete to give way to video slot machines. This change enabled the machines to award bonus wins and then they had themes to differentiate one machine from the other.
Going into a casino, it is not unusual to find a casino floor dedicated to slot machines. Some even recognise it as the most profitable area in a casino. These are hassle-free and low maintenance and can even be purchased outright from the manufacturers or rented out. Casinos earn a great deal of money with slot machines. There are even some casinos that are purely slot machines such as regional casinos with no table games available. In general, a casino will earn roughly 10-20% for every dollar inserted into the machines and these machines are almost never empty. So imagine the huge profit casinos earn from slot machines.
However, slot machines will never be more profitable than they already are now. Whilst they are unlikely to go away in the near future, their growth will stagnate. Why? Demographics. People who love slots are aging. A lot of them are going into retirement and with no source of money to support their entertainment, they will hardly play anymore. The younger generation is not showing any slightest interest in playing slot machines anymore.
In a survey conducted by UNLV, the median age of a slot machine player in Las Vegas is 56 years old, which is 10 years older than the median age of an average visitor in the city. Youth movement in slots is close to zero. Manufacturers know this and are doubling up in building machines that would cater to the younger generations’ tastes and hunger for games that are more interactive.
Another factor that causes the falling popularity of slot machines in casinos is the presence of alternative forms of entertainment. The internet, video games, and online gaming. The younger generation has grown up exposed to a host of alternatives to slot machines. Slot machines became popular decades ago because Playstation and iPad’s did not exist then. Video slots do not match to the appeal players can get from playing in online casinos.
Slot machines must find a way to attract the younger generation, particularly those who grew up in the video game era. It is an uphill journey for slots as video games are also continually evolving offering interactive games to retain its following.
Manufacturers must step up their game and offer a wide variety of themes and mechanics. Most players complain that slots do not give them a choice of games to play. They cannot simply wait for someone to finish playing with a machine before they can play. Manufacturers must give them a choice. A few years back when server-based gaming was introduced, casino employees can monitor the games remotely but they would still need to go to the floor if there are changes to the machine’s payback.
Server-based gaming gave the employees the freedom to tweak the machines remotely. It allows them to give current player a special offer or give them a tougher week. Aside from easing the tasks for casino employees, server-based gaming also benefited players as it allowed them to choose from a wide variety of games and themes.
The introduction of skill-based slot machines has been going around the casino industry. One of the main selling points of video games is its offering of competition. Even a simple game such as Candy Crush has millions of users worldwide. Why? It’s because of the competition. Players can post their scores on Facebook where their friends can see it. It gives the players a sense of accomplishment.
Early slot machines are powered by a random number generator so there is really no way for a player to be skilled enough to beat a slot machine or control the reels so it beats the score of the previous player. The reels are random and players cannot influence the outcome. Introducing a skill-based slot machine may be innovative but it can also be like a double-edged knife that will cause the slot machine operators to lose their traditional slot machine crowd and fail to attract the younger generation of players.
A land-based casino would have a much bigger problem since most of their casino floors are littered with these vibrant and electronic machines. It would be harder for them to dispose of and update each one of them to cater to the younger generation.
Online casinos have better luck. They can still do something about choosing the titles that they would offer their users. They can even draw them using a bunch of promotions and daily bonuses but if they really want slot machines to gain a lot of new following from the younger generation, they have to make their themes more in tune with the interests of the younger people.
Slot machine players have seen enough Oriental-themed slots and younger players would not want to play with Disney-themed slots either. Popular movie themes may be advisable but remember that these also have expiration dates as these movies do not remain popular forever. Online casinos should have a regular review of the titles available on their website.
Aside from generous promotions and daily bonuses, online casinos must do more in terms of motivating their users to play slot machines. They can post rankings on top players who have made it on the progressive jackpot rounds. Since gambling is strictly illegal in Thailand, players have to content themselves with playing slots in any casinos near the Cambodia border. Some, who are wise enough, choose to play slot machines in online casinos that accept Thai players such as HappyLuke and Live Casino House.