Australian gambling operators are expressing interest in a new style of "skill-based" machines more like video games that are marketed at younger punters who are unlikely to play the traditional, push-button pokies. Free casino games slot machines.
GameCo, an international provider of so-called "video game gambling machines", said its products had recently been approved by several US regulators, and it was ready to explore opportunities in Australian jurisdictions.
"Australian operators have shown interest in skill-based [machines] and our games," GameCo chief executive Blaine Graboyes said.
"There are a number of efforts under way within the region to consider how skill-based gaming may be considered."
The new generation of arcade-style gambling machines – including shooting games, racing games, card games and puzzles – determine payouts on player ability as well as chance.
Over the past year, they have been installed on gaming floors at some of the biggest and best-known casinos in the world, including in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and on cruise lines. More machines are set to be rolled out in the US, South America and the Caribbean within weeks.
"We are currently working with partners for expansion throughout Latin America, the UK, the Netherlands, and into Asia, particularly Macau," Mr Graboyes said.
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GameCo's new casino game machine, based on the movie Terminator 2, was recently launched at Caesars in Atlantic City.
Poker machines continue to be a big money-maker for gambling operators, and they remain the leading cause of gambler losses in Australia. But casinos and other providers worldwide are worried that traditional push-button pokies are unappealing to Millennials.
Two of Australia's biggest providers of gambling machines, Crown Resorts and the ALH Group, would not comment on whether they were considering introducing the new skill-based slot machine technology.
GameCo said it would be presenting its products at the Australasian Gaming Expo in Sydney next month.
"We are looking forward to skill-based gaming gaining acceptance and exploring the opportunities for our products in the region," Mr Graboyes said.
We are looking forward to skill-based gaming gaining acceptance and exploring the opportunities for our products in the region.
GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes
The machines are being studied by the Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council and by the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic.
Sally Gainsbury, a senior lecturer at the university, said the "illusion of control" was a common contributing factor to problem gambling among pokies players, and introducing a skill component could be dangerous.
"People essentially think they have a strategy, that they are better than other people, and they will continue to play in the hope they have a big win," Dr Gainsbury said.
"If you have betting machines that have an element of skill, the concern is that people will not have an understanding of where skill is involved and what comes down to just chance. And they could think that the more they practise the better they may get."
Gamblit, another of the US-based manufacturers behind the new breed of casino machines, said its products in Nevada and California and on cruise ships were proving "very popular" with younger punters.
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"We are averaging players nearly 20 years younger than those of a slot player," chief marketing officer Darion Lowenstein said.
"We've had interest from casinos and other potential partners all over the world."