The casino industry may find its business model vaporised like travel agencies, DVD stores and pay phones unless leaders transform themselves with innovation, a speaker at a one-day innovation conference in Las Vegas said.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) hosted a one-day conference at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas last month. The meeting focused on trends and innovation in gaming, and which disruptive technologies have the best odds of shaping the future of the casino floor.

The event included presentations on how to monetize innovation, privacy and security implications related to capturing data from passers-by and the future role of cryptocurrencies in casinos.

Keynote speaker Rob Tercek, who consults with executives in various industries on strategic initiatives, says when it comes to creating the casino of the future, the industry is severely lacking.

He opined that the games on smartphones have the ability to provide a much more entertaining experience than slot and skill-based video gaming machines found on Las Vegas floors.

Unimaginative slots

Tercek said consumers are being conditioned by the games they see and play on their smartphones and that by comparison, casino slot machines are unimaginative. He went on to say that skill-based slot machines are all the rage in the gaming industry in 2017, but the new products, thought to be innovative concepts by some casino executives, won’t do much to attract the millennial.

“Once those (slot machine) games are sealed by the regulators, they’re sealed for good and you can’t change those games on the fly,” Tercek said. “You simply can’t innovate at the speed of mobile games and the entire mobile industry.”

He said mobile smartphone games are continuously upgrading and that game designers are receiving constant feedback from consumers through how they play. As a result, they can make quick changes that make a game more appealing.

Tercek also said it doesn’t help that the casino industry continues to operate with icons that have been around for more than 100 years. “Those cherries, bars and bells were introduced in the 1880s,” he said. “We still haven’t changed them. They’re silently telegraphing a message when millennials walk through the casino floor. What it’s saying is, ‘This is not for you. This is an artefact from a bygone era.’”

Conditioned to ‘free’

“When you compare mobile games to the casino games, the casino games disappoint,” Tercek said.  “Players are now conditioned to play with a touchscreen or with augmented reality or virtual reality. To them, it (slots) looks like something that was designed in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s.”

He said player engagement with slot machines is weak. and today’s mobile users are conditioned to a concept foreign to most casinos — free play.

Because players lose money so fast, interest quickly dwindles.

“Obviously, I understand the economics of the casino games, but I’m saying that when consumers walk in, they’re going to be disappointed,” he said. “It doesn’t meet their expectations.”

Departed products

Tercek said there is hope for the industry if innovators consider how they can modify the slot machine model to become more appealing to players. He noted that people no longer use telephone directories, pay phones, address books or fax machines and they don’t buy CDs, DVDs, disposable cameras or film, tune into prime time or ever get lost “because we always have a smartphone app for that.”

“The fate of the casino business is in your hands,” Tercek said. “You’re either going to end up like all the examples I just showed you and be irrelevant or you’re going to make some dramatic changes to your business. It’s a choice you get to make.”

He said casino innovators should rethink every aspect of slot machine presentation — formats, play styles, device locations, screens, presentation, player interaction, connectivity and sharing and social connections.

Slots Remain, for Now

Though the future of gambling might not be slots, the fact of the matter is that the EGM’s today still generate the majority of a floor’s revenue. Moving away from the moneymakers as Tercek suggests is easier said than done.


Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal,